Jacob G. Padrón approaches his first season as artistic director of Connecticut’s Long Wharf Theatre under unprecedented circumstances. One day after the 2020–2021 lineup was unveiled, Broadway theatres suspended performances due to the coronavirus pandemic, with regional venues nationwide following suit. In the wake of the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of police, Black Lives Matter protests underscore the need for representation and accountability in the industry.
As such, the New Haven venue will launch its One City, Many Stages initiative, a year-long commitment to innovative, open, and community-driven programming, this fall.
“New Haven deserves an institution that is dedicated to welcoming, investigating, and manifesting lived experiences that display the complexity of the world we live in,” Padrón said in a statement announcing the program, the details of which are under wraps as they evolve. “We can’t simply claim to be a space where everyone belongs. At Long Wharf Theatre, we are dedicated to our values being repeatable actions rather than static ideas.”
Among these action steps are a season of works presented in open spaces throughout New Haven; previously reported community partnerships with fellow local theatre company Collective Consciousness and the New York-based ensemble UNIVERSES; a virtual Artistic Congress conference; and a focus on new accessibility technologies and low-cost ticket opportunities.
As of now, it is unclear whether many of the titles initially announced for the season (labeled “Breaking Boundaries” and featuring an all-female lineup of directors) will play in the revised season format. Productions included a new adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shana Cooper, a revival of Jelly’s Last Jam, and the world premiere of Monet Hurst-Mendoza’s Torera. The one-night-only 20th anniversary reading of The Good Person of New Haven will still take place, albeit likely in a modified presentation.