Night Fall lights up Hartford

Arts

On Saturday, Oct. 15, Choral Director Steve Mitchell helped organize and run the annual Night Fall event. The evening featured music, dance, theater, spoken word, and Anne Cubberly’s signature giant puppets.

The evening started at 6:00 pm and the performance was held in Hartford at Colt Park. Mr. Mitchell is one of the co-founders and co-leaders for the event. He helps to hire the artists, performers, and technical specialists. In the production this year, there were at least eight giant puppets that actors controlled from the inside. The Night Fall performance told the story of birth, life, and death through the eyes of a beaver.

The story was performed with intricate puppets, and in the end the actors showed the beaver’s life with shadow puppets.

Mr. Mitchell’s current role for the performance is Technical Director. He designed and built the stage for the evening including the lights. “The team prepares all year long, but I only have one day to put the stage together for the rehearsal and the show,” Mr. Mitchell said.

Mr. Mitchell conceived of Nigh Fall over ten years ago. “I was working with Anne Cubberly doing community events,” Mr. Mitchell said, “and we dreamed up the event and brought in LB Muñoz to the team.”

Night Fall celebrates creative diversity in the Greater Hartford area and helps people learn about the arts. “I am most proud of the diversity on the cast of actors, actresses, and drummers,” Mr. Mitchell said. The event attracted five thousand people to the Saturday night performance. Another mission of Night Fall is to pay artists to make art. “We pay every single person on the cast, and the show costs over $105,000 to produce, but is free to the community,” Mr. Mitchell said. The show is supported by donations and grants from individuals and private foundations. “It is very rare for artists to get paid for an event like this because usually they are asked to volunteer,” Mr. Mitchell continued. People all over the community participate in projects with hospitals, children’s homes, and community centers, turning recycled milk cartons into lanterns that will be used for the performance.

When the Solstice puppet goes into the crowd, it is followed by actors carrying the lanterns, who give the lanterns to the audience. “At the end of the night, it is amazing to see all the little lights leave the performance and take a part of the show with them,” Mr. Mitchell said. “My favorite part of the night was when we use the overhead projectors for a shadow puppet show. The park was completely silent and everybody was focused on the screen.”

At the end of the evening there is a final ritual procession of lanterns. The Solstice puppet helps to symbolize the ending of summer changing to the fall season and eventually the beginning of winter.It is the only part of the performance that stays the same each year. “Light is still coming even though we are moving into this dark period,” Mr. Mitchell remarked.