A CuT Pilgrimage to “I’m Connecticut”

It was a dark and stormy night, but we’d already reserved our seats and got a good deal (thanks to Groupon) so the Asian Persuasion and I headed off to see I’m Connecticut, a Connecticut Repertory Theater Production. I bought the tickets for the AP’s birthday while she was away in Hawaii on her honeymoon. I was basically just hoping she’d be able to go, but it turned out pretty well. And I’d completely forgotten that she was on the Colin McEnroe Show with the playwright, Mike Reiss (and that I called to yell about The Gilmore Girls and how awful the movies make Connecticut look).

So as we drove through torrential downpours along the very dark Rte 44 toward UConn we weren’t sure what to expect. As we stood outside the very dark Jorgensen Auditorium we were even more confused. A few fellow would-be audience members were equally befuddled until an old man wandered by and told us to go around back. Considering the typhoon-like weather, we weren’t happy about this, but we trekked back there anyway.

Even after hearing Reiss on the CMS, we didn’t quite get what the show was supposed to be about. Basically its a romantic comedy about a guy from Connecticut trying to find love in NYC, and exploring his own blandness while discussing Connecticut’s boringness. The basic premise is that Connecticut has nothing about it that’s special…and therefore it’s people are boring but nice.

The play was funny — like LOL funny (and I especially liked the Bostonian character) — but it is our job as CuTters to point out that there are plenty of things that stand out about Connecticut. The idea that Connecticut sucks is patently untrue as this charming Facebook group can tell you.

First and foremost, we’re rich — and obscenely poor, but we’ll ignore that for now — and so I think when most people think of Connecticut they picture Martha Stewart, Westport-types (otherwise known as preppies). We’re all Charlotte from Sex and the City and that is  perhaps the single-most recognizable thing about us. Of course, the truth is, that’s only Fairfield County.

Eastern Connecticut is filled with good ol’ fashioned Swamp Yankees. Litchfield has rich, arty types and New Haven is home to Brooklyn’s cast-offs. But perhaps this is part of the problem: Connecticut’s prime location between two major cities, and lots of lovely farmland and mountains, makes it too diverse. We’ve got poverty stricken cities, quiet bedroom communities, and charming hamlets… there’s just too much to choose from.

Despite the completely self-depreciating tone of I’m Connecticut, in the end we do get an earnest moment or two that basically say the beauty of Connecticut is that it produces such wonderful people. I have to say, I thought it was an odd conclusion, because Connecticut (and all of New England) is known for being cold and unfriendly. Now, Lord knows I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a bit reserved — southerners freak me out — but I did find it a bit odd that Connecticut’s “nice” people are its best export. That seems like more of a Minnesotan thing.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing that no one thing defines us. We’re not just an accent, or one city…we’re an actual, honest to goodness melting pot. All you have to do is look at the Asian’s multi-cultural marriage to see what a diverse, wonderful place Connecticut is.

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