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Long Wharf Announces Ambitious 2020-21 Season

The season features a diverse slate of works new and old, all directed by women, and an emphasis on local collaborations and community partnerships.

Jacob Padrón. (Photo by Marc J. Franklin)

NEW HAVEN, CONN.: Long Wharf Theatre has announced the complete lineup for its 2020-21 season, the first fully programmed by artistic director Jacob G. Padrón. He and managing director Kit Ingui have given the season the title “Breaking Boundaries” and put an emphasis on “re-dedicating” the theatre to its “founding mission to present innovative art with the community at its center.” To that end, the theatre is shifting the majority of its productions to its Stage II, offering audiences a more intimate theatregoing experience. Likewise, changes to the theatre’s operating model include programming designed to engage people across the community, and an effort to tap new sources of financial support throughout the community and across the country.

The season will also feature a series of artistic collaborations: with the Sol Project, an initiative dedicated to amplifying the voices of Latinx playwrights; New Haven’s own Collective Consciousness Theatre, a company committed to using theatre to catalyze social justice; and NAATCO (National Asian American Theatre Company), whose mission is to assert the significance of Asian American theatre in the United States. The season will also introduce “The Remix: A Lab for Artistic Collisions,” a space for local artists, new-work development, and civic engagement; a one-night-only 20th anniversary reading of The Good Person of New Haven; and the introduction of the Long Wharf Artistic Ensemble, a collective of eight artists who will develop new projects with and for Long Wharf in addition to being ambassadors in their respective communities and the community at large.

“The 2020/21 season was shaped by a listening tour that began the minute I stepped into my new role as artistic director,” said Padrón in a statement. “As we pivot this company to be one of, for, and by the community, we aspire to break boundaries both onstage and off as we invite artists, audiences, and our longtime supporters to join Long Wharf’s revolution. We are dedicated to the pillars of artistic innovation, radical inclusion, and meaningful connection as we reflect on our past and joyfully conjure our future to rebuild a theatre company that is boundary-breaking in every way imaginable.”

The season will kick off on Sept. 16-17 with”State of the Union: An Artistic Congress,” an election-year convening with multiple community organizations and arts leaders to inspire collective call to action, with programming over two days including speakers, roundtables, and community-led conversations. Artists and leaders from across the country will gather with members of the New Haven community to answer the central question: How can our work as artists and storytellers help rebuild our democracy?

Play programming begins with the world premiere of Monet Hurst-Mendoza‘s Torera (Oct. 14-Nov. 8), directed by Tatiana Pandiani. Produced in partnership with the Sol Project, Torera tells the story of a young woman entering the male-dominated world of bullfighting.

Next is A Night’s Dream (Nov. 25-Dec. 30), director Shana Cooper’s radical reimagining of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, employing just eight actors shapeshifting into multiple enchanting roles.

Kristoffer Diaz’s path-breaking The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity follows (Jan. 13-Feb. 7, 2021), in a partnership with Collective Consciousness Theatre. Diaz’s play follows professional wrestler Macedonio Guerra and his rivalry with Chad Deity, the arrogant champion fans can’t get enough of.

Next is Madhuri Shekar’s Queen (Feb. 24-March 21, 2021), directed Aneesha Kudtarkar and produced in partnership with NAATCO (National Asian American Theatre Company). Shekar’s play two scientists on the trail of the mystery of bees’ disappearance whose friendship is put to the test.

A revival of George C. Wolfe’s Tony-winning musical Jelly’s Last Jam is next (April 21-May 16, 2021), with music by Jelly Roll Morton and Luther Henderson, lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, and direction by Patricia McGregor. A cast of 14 and a band of 6 tells the story of the life and music of jazz progenitor Jelly Roll Morton.

On a date TBA in May, the theatre will host a 20th anniversary reading of Alison Carey’s The Good Person of New Haven, directed by Bill Rauch. The Brecht adaptation was created during Long Wharf’s 1999-2000 season after three years in partnership between Cornerstone Theater Company and hundreds of New Haven residents.

Long Wharf’s inaugural artistic ensemble, composed of eight New Haven-and New York City-based artists, will serve as thought partners to the artistic director and develop new projects with and for Long Wharf. They include actor and playwright Ryan Haddad (Hi, Are You Single?); actor Mason Alexander Park (Hedwig and the Angry Inch tour, Long Wharf’s I Am My Own Wife); Tony-nominated actor Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder); director Madeline Sayet (executive director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program); director Dexter J. Singleton (executive artistic director, Collective Consciousness Theatre); and director Awoye Timpo (In Old Age, Long Wharf’s Paradise Blue). Three more members of the artistic ensemble will be announced shortly.

Finally, doubling down on its commitment to growing the next generation of theatremakers and theatre lovers, Long Wharf is also launching a young adult council called the Stage Squad. This group of high school students from across Connecticut will learn about the process of creating theatre by engaging in the art form through workshops, trainings with staff, and trips to see productions throughout the state.

Established in 1965 at the start of the regional theatre movement, Long Wharf Theatre was born on the notion that New Haven deserves an active culture that is locally created.

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