How Fiasco Staged An Entire City With Just 6 Doors



A center piece of Fiasco Theater’s production of Measure for Measure are the different doors that line the stage. Noah Brody, co-director of the production, discusses how the company came up with the idea.

As we worked on the play – and we work on the play for a long time without casting it so we heard it over and over again – we came to realize that one of the thing that defines Measure for Measure is that it has to do with city life. And its about city questions and city problems.

There are spaces in which people from many strata of society co-exist. It doesn’t matter where you come from, we all end up there someday. A courtroom. A church. A jail cell. A brothel. The city street itself. These are places we have to co-exist. They are often public spaces or semi-private spaces. There are very few private spaces in this place. That felt like the city to us. This isn’t the backwoods or Arcadia.

What does that mean for our production conceptualization? We thought of doors. When I think of the city I think of the street and a series of doors. Think of a courtroom door. Is whats going on behind there on the up and up? Is the legal system as its purported to be, or as it attempts, actually happening? Or, are we witness the breakdown? Same is true of the church doors. Sure, it should aspire to the highest ideas, but what is in fact happening is the opposite.

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6 Politicians Who’d Fit Perfectly in ‘Measure fir Measure’

rod blagoevich

1. Rod Blagojevich
Prior to ascending to the Illinois governor’s mansion in 2003, Rod Blagojevich painted a picture of himself as an honest, ethical reformer, insisting, “I think the most important thing is [to] restore a sense of idealism and end the cynicism in state government. Bring to the job a desire to really make things happen and help people and give confidence back to the public.” Blagojevich was eventually convicted for trying to auction off the 2008 vacant U.S. Senate seat of then-President-Elect Barack Obama.

GTY_john_edwards_campaign_tk_131111_33x16_16002. John Edwards
During the 2004 Democratic National Convention, then-VP candidate John Edwards declared, “We choose hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what’s right even when those around us say, ‘You can’t do that.’” Edwards’ small-town-family-man image was shattered in 2007 when the National Inquirer revealed that he had fathered a child with Rielle Hunter, a campaign worker, while his wife was battling cancer.

newt gingrich blog

3. Newt Gingrich
In 1998, when news of President Bill Clinton’s affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky surfaced, House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich lambasted Clinton for committing adultery and pushed for impeachment. At the time, though, Gingrich was also cheating on his second wife, Marianne Ginther, with a woman 23 years his junior, who became his third wife.

larry craig blog

4. Larry Craig
In June 2007, Republican Larry Craig of Idaho, a strident social conservative with a wife and very strong anti-gay record, was arrested for lewd conduct in a men’s restroom stall at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. Later that year, several gay men alleged to the Idaho Statesman that they had either had sexual affairs with Craig or that he had made sexual advances to them.


5. David Vitter
Infamous for his social conservatism, Republican congressman David Vitter of Louisiana joined five other congressmen in 2003 and introduced a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. But in 2007, it was revealed that Vitter had been a client of the Washington, DC escort service operated by the DC Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. No criminal charges were filed because of the statute of limitations, and Vitter was re-elected to the Senate in 2010.

spitzer blog

6. Eliot Spitzer
As New York’s attorney general and later its governor, Eliot Spitzer built a reputation as a crusader for ethics in business and in government. In his 2007 gubernatorial inaugural address, he declared, “We must transform our government so that it is as ethical and wise as all of New York.” The following year, his career came crashing down when it was revealed that he was a client of Emperors Club VIP, where he paid as much as $3,100 per hour for prostitutes.

By John M. Baker, inspired by Zac Bissonnette’s Good Advice from Bad People.

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Fiasco Engages the Imagination

Fiasco imagination

Noah Brody as the Wolf and Emily Young as Little Red Riding Hood in Fiasco’s production of INTO THE WORDS. The ensemble often employ this type of creative use of props and set pieces in their shows.

Noah Brody, one of the co-artistic directors of Fiasco Theater, and a co-director and actor in Long Wharf Theatre’s presentation of Fiasco’s Measure for Measure, by William Shakespeare, running from November 25 through December 20, sat down for a wide ranging conversation.

LWT: How would you describe Fiasco Theater’s style

Noah Brody: We are an actor driven, ensemble theatre company and we like to give ourselves full rich experiences. We want to do all the things we like to do, challenging ourselves..

We have a strong classical theatre background and we are all highly textual people. We love to geek out about that stuff, but we also have a background in physical theatre and commedia and clown and music. I’m a fight choreographer. So we try to make productions in which we get to do lots and lots of things.

Anything that’s onstage we try to create with our bodies and a few props. That’s the philosophy behind it

We ask ourselves, what do we need to tell the story and what do we only need. So, we give ourselves anything that we need to tell the story and only those things. We are interested in the resonance and the intellectual conversation that can ensue from double and tripling the casting, but also finding multiple uses for props because it engages the imagination.

The other thing we really try to do – in our personal process we say, let each thing be what it is. In Shakespeare’s plays quite often, and especially in this play,    moments that are sitting right next to each other can be completely different tonally and texturally. Something that is hilariously funny can live right next to something shocking. We try to let that needle swing back and forth however that is being dictated by the text. It feels like it swings all over the place, and that is actually what Shakespeare wrote, and its actually more like life, more so than something that would be tonally consistent over the course of a two hour show. If there’s inconsistency, it is something that has been dictated by Shakespeare.

In this particular production there are a lot of interesting things that happen when actors double. We think of the play as having different kinds of spheres – the sphere of the spiritual, of the temporal, and of the appetite, the sexual. The head, the heart, and the guts.

Because the message of the play is about the conflict of those things, and reconciling the debate internal to oneself, as well as on a macro scale, in society, that to see the same actress play Isabella, the novice nun, and Mistress Overdone, the madam of a brothel, is an interesting thing to see that it resides within the same person. So everyone in the cast plays someone who is high and low. We are not just going to double. We do it in a way we believe is engendered by the text itself.

What we really like to do is give the audience enough so that they understand how to contextualize everything, but also that we give them the broad stroke and they have to fill things in with their imaginations. That’s the way we like to see theatre. We’re trying to create theatre in a way that I think that engages an audience and gets them sitting forward, rather than sending a message saying “sit back, we’ve taken care of everything now all you have to do is sit there and watch.”

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Everyone who falls in love with the theatre remembers their first experience of it. Sometimes it’s a big Broadway show. Occasionally it’s a high school play in which someone participated. Many others find out in a class how much fun and rewarding the theatre can be.

Long Wharf Theatre’s education department will partner with the New Haven Free Public Library to hopefully create those moments for a group of willing teens. Teaching artists from Long Wharf Theatre’s education department will hold a series of monthly classes from November to June at the Ives Main Library located at 133 Elm Street. The classes, lead by Long Wharf Theatre’s Director of Education Beth Milles and teaching artist Elizabeth Nearing, are free and open to all high school students. They will take place from 3 to 5 pm the second Wednesday of every month. “Theatre Haven is a space for exploration and creativity, a place to make new work and grow,” Milles said.

Theatre Haven will give young people the opportunity to try out different aspects of theatre in a safe and, perhaps most importantly, fun environment. The workshops will offer a sampling of theatrical art forms – from Shakespeare to clowning, from social justice-minded theatre to spoken word. Milles and Nearing also intend to offer flexibility in the workshops as well. If they find something that resonates with students, they’ll stick with it. “One of the great joys of the theatre, as a young person, is that when you join a play you feel that you are genuinely a part of something. I think theatre has that kind of magical power,” said Nearing, Long Wharf Theatre’s community relations manager.

Theatre Haven Schedule
November 18 – What is theatre? Introduction and workshop
December 9 – Shakespeare workshop
January 13 – Adapting and crafting your piece
February 10 – Having Your Say: History and your voice
March 9 – Political theatre
April 13 – Clowning
May 11 – Spoken word
June  8 – Final performances

To register for the classes, e-mail For more information about Long Wharf Theatre’s education department, visit For more information about the New Haven Free Public Library, visit


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A CLOSER LOOK: Elder Play 2015

Elder Play #2“When you look back life doesn’t seem to have happened in order.”
“It just seems to have happened.”
“Everything mixing all at the same time.”
“Sometimes you can zoom in on something.”
“It’s not always the best, but it’s what you got.”
“All of the moments of your life, happening at once.”

 These are the musings of people who’ve seen a lot of life between them. A group of young at heart women, aged 82 to 99 and living at Tower One/Tower East in New Haven, recently performed in The Elder Play Project, original pieces based on their life stories written with the guidance of Long Wharf Theatre’s education department. What emerged from those writing workshops were the stories of lives well lived.

Elder Play #1Last week, a group of about 40 junior and senior theatre students from Co-Op High School in New Haven walked over to Tower One/Tower East to participate. “I am so excited to see you all here. You know I love you so I am going to do everything I can to get you involved in what I am doing at Long Wharf,” said Madelyn Ardito, a former Co-op teacher and current LWT education programs manager who coordinates the Elder Play Project, an ongoing initiative.

It was a unique and much needed opportunity for each generation. “There has been a lot of recent research about intergenerational programming,” said Susan Skalka, life enrichment coordinator at Tower One. “They need to understand each other – it’s going to sound kumbaya to say this – in order to create a better world,” she said.

For an hour, there was a glimpse of what that better world would look like. The group, comprised of Terry Berger, Rhoda Blumenthal, Esther Brochin, Bertha Kahn, Ruth Katz, Laura Levine, Gertrude Lerman, Bettye Morrison, Gladys Pine, Sylvia Rifkin, Sylvia Rosenthal, and Evelyne Siegel, performed their stories (with the help of Co-op students Laura Bedoya, Sumiah Gay, and Juneau Howard). With openness and bravery, the women spoke of their lives, of victories and disappointments, of their loves and fears. They told the stories of their lives simply, which made it all more powerful.Elder Play #3

Some of them described fleeing the Holocaust. Other talked about finding their lifetime love. Other spoke of raising children and what options were available to them as women growing up in the mid-20th century. Still other described their personal fears – one spoke of learning how to become her own person. The elderly women moved back and forth in time – they might reflect on what it is to be alive now, but the young girls they once were aren’t so far away.

The teenagers were clearly caught up in their elders’ stories, asking questions when it was over and sharing their own appreciations.  “It moved me inside,” one young man said. “I want to say you all are amazing.” “This was a really good message about working through your struggles,” another student said.

The overall feeling of the event can be expressed in a single sentiment. “Listening to you reminded me of my grandparents,” said teacher Rob Esposito.

Elder Play #4

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MS_FbNEW HAVEN – Long Wharf Theatre will present the world premiere of iconic writer and performer Steve Martin’s newest play, Meteor Shower, directed by Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein, in a co- production with the Old Globe in San Diego, California.

Meteor Shower will take place in San Diego July 30 through September 4, 2016 and will begin Long Wharf Theatre’s 2016-17 season, running from September 21 through October 16, 2016.

Get ready for the unexpected when Norm and his wife Corky invite another couple to their Ojai backyard to watch a meteor shower in the night sky. As the stars come out and the conversation gets rolling, cocktails flow, tempers flare, and sparks fly—literally. Steve Martin’s surprising new comedy takes an offbeat and absurdist look at the comic anxiety lurking just beneath the surface of modern marriage.

“Steve Martin is one of the great and most influential comic minds of the last 40 years. After the tremendous success of our productions of Picasso at the Lapin Agile and The Underpants we were so pleased that Steve Martin offered us, along with the Old Globe as our partners, his new play. This is a huge event and we are delighted beyond words,” said Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein.

Over the past several seasons, Martin has become a friend to Long Wharf Theatre. His plays The Underpants and Picasso at the Lapin Agile, both directed by Edelstein, were audience favorites. His conversation with New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, punctuated by his own banjo performance, took place in front of a sold-out house.

Martin has recently worked closely with singer-songwriter Edie Brickell on a pair of projects – the world premiere of the musical Bright Star (which took place at the Old Globe and will play a limited engagement at the Kennedy Center starting December 2, prior to a just-announced Broadway run beginning performances March 7, (at a Shubert Organization theater to be named.), and a new album called “So Familiar,” coming out October 30. He will also appear in the film adaptation of the critically acclaimed novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, coming out in 2016.

Long Wharf Theatre will announce the rest of its 2015-16 season in Spring 2016.


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Creating a Masterpiece


We’re in the business of making art, but painting, as in portraiture, is a bit out of our area of expertise. In Disgraced Emily, Amir’s wife, is an artist. At the beginning of the show we find her sketching her husband in the living room of their New York apartment. Inspired by an earlier incident, she has Amir posing in modern dress in the same manner as the subject in Diego Velazquez’s 17th century painting Portrait of Juan de Pareja. Suffice it to say we were in need of a painting, but not just any painting. Our props shop needed to make a portrait in the exact likeness of the actor portraying Amir and in the style of an old master no less!

The members of our props team are all certainly talented artists but this painting was not the only thing on their to-do list for Disgraced. Neither did our actor have the time to pose for it like Amir does in the play. That’s how Assistant Props Manager Frank J. Alberino found himself one afternoon directing a photo shoot in rehearsal hall B complete with lights, backdrop, wardrobe crew, and photographer. With a copy of the Portrait of Juan de Pareja hanging on the wall for reference, Frank posed his subject, actor Rajesh Bose, paying close attention to the details – position of fingers, visibility of cufflinks, the falling of shadows on the face, and especially the placement of his right arm. Between Frank’s minor adjustments the camera clicked away trying to catch a digital mimic of a 350-year-old piece of art. In 15 minutes it was over and then it was all up to Frank to turn a photograph into a painting.

Using Photoshop he took out the white background on the photo of our actor and fit in the background from the Portrait of Juan de Pareja in its place. He then texturized the image to appear as a painting rather than a photograph and matched its colors to those found in Velazquez’s painting. Once finished he sent it off to the printer. Voila! A painting! Well…not quite. There was just one small detail still missing – the printed painting is on paper, it needs to look like it’s on canvas.






This is where the magic of props comes in. A special canvas was made to mount the print on. On the front was a normal piece of foam board, but canvas fabric had been attached to the sides of the frame to make it appear as if it was a normal stretched canvas. But we can’t just glue a printed painting to a fake canvas and call it a day. It has to look as real as possible. “We used a gel medium on the print to create the depth of the brush strokes,” Frank explained. By painting on the layers of gel medium the fake painting feels like a real painting and under the lights reflects the small ridges and grooves normally present on the surface of a painting. “Using this process actually makes it easier to make adjustments to the painting as the lighting for the show is adjusted during tech rehearsal.” By the time you see the painting on stage our prop shop will have made sure you see its true colors, no matter the stage lighting. And that is how you paint a masterpiece without using any…well…paint.

A test of the gel medium used on the painting. Before (left) and After (right)

A test of the gel medium used on the painting. Before (left) and After (right)

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Meet Mohit Gautam

When asked at first rehearsal how he pronounced his name, Mohit Gautam responded: “you can just call me Mo.” But ‘just Mo’ doesn’t even come close to accurately describing this newcomer to LWT.  The youngest member of the cast, Mohit is making his professional debut playing Abe, Amir’s nephew, in Disgraced. “I just graduated from Brooklyn College with my MFA in Acting and I auditioned for this part in July and got a call the next day saying that I got the role”, he says still with a slightly mind-blown look in his eye all these months later. “It’s really quite a whirlwind experience that I’m having right now”, he admits. “To be able to come right out of school and then jump right in to the professional world and to have my debut at this wonderful theatre is really something that’s remarkable.”

This young actor isn’t just smiling right now because of his quick success, though. He’s genuinely enjoying embodying the role he’s been cast in. “The most exciting thing about playing Abe is that he’s my age and I relate to him on a lot of levels,” Mohit explains. “Abe is Muslim and I’m Hindu, but we both come from the same type of background. We both have traditional family values; we both have the same aspirations to be a better person, to be a more knowledgeable and giving person in society.”

Mohit is no doubt thankful for the opportunity Disgraced has given him to start his career off strong, but he also recognizes the larger role this new show is playing in creating a wider opportunity for diversity in the American theatre. “Because it’s the most produced play in America right now that’s really awesome for a lot of South Asian actors who are looking for work.”

You won’t want to miss seeing Mohit in action as he makes his debut in Disgraced playing through November 8th.

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Local is on the Menu at LWT!

After a few tastings in anticipation of our upcoming production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar, we are now working with and offering the products of four well-regarded (and insanely delicious) local organizations.

Katalina’s Bakery, located on Whitney Avenue, is a recent, but much lauded, addition to the New Haven food scene. Founded in 2011, owner Katalina Riegelmann primarily offers cookies, cakes, brownies, and more. While her main focus is on satisfying your sweet tooth, Katalina’s offers a wide array of savory options as well. We’ll start the season with chocolate chip cookies, granola bars, whoopee pies, and lemon bars, all made daily with locally sourced ingredients. Over the course of the season, items will change based on audience popularity and seasonal flavors.

Since delicious sweets go hand in hand with great coffee, we’ll be offering Blue State Coffee‘s “True Blue” blend for sale in our lobby. Blue State’s website describes it as having “a strong start and a refreshingly sweet finish” with notes of ripe red fruit and chocolate. It’s the popular coffee shop’s most requested blend.

It isn’t just the great coffee that makes us want to work with Blue State Coffee – it’s also their mission to which we are drawn. Starting in 2004, Blue State Coffee has been donating a percentage of its sales to local non-profit organizations. Over 200 organizations have been the recipients of Blue State’s efforts, including Citywide Youth Coalition, Big Brothers Big Sisters, New Haven Reads, New Haven Pride Center, Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven, Shelter Now, CitySeed, and New Haven Animal Shelter. We’re extremely excited that Long Wharf Theatre is one of the local non-profits Blue State Coffee has decided to sponsor until the end of December.  Stop down to their store at 87 Wall Street, New Haven, get a great cup of joe and vote for us.  The more votes we receive, the larger the donation we’ll get at the end of our sponsorship.

When you look at the bios of the founders of Stratford-based Two Roads Brewing Company, you find a group of men who could have taken a different path in their careers. Brad Hittle worked in corporate America. Phil Markowski was an engineer, as was Clement Pellani. Peter Doering was the CFO of a shipyard. But they decided that making great beer for a loyal customer base was a different and better way towards fulfillment. Sounds like a great story.

A great story isn’t enough – the beer has to be good as well. We now offer three different beers from Two Road Brewing – “Ol’Factory Pils,” a traditional German pilsner, “Road to Ruin,” a Double IPA brewed with four American hop varieties – Summit, Palisade, Cascade and Magnum – and “Honeyspot Road,” a white IPA that uses American ale yeast and no spices.

For our younger audience members, we are hosting an event called “40 Under 40.” Taking place at each of our first Friday preview performances throughout the season, we’ll offer dinner and drinks from Miya’s Sushi and a ticket to a show for $40 for our audience members under the age of 40. The first event will take place on Friday, October 16 at 6 pm. We hope that “40 Under 40” can be a way to help introduce a younger audience to the enjoyment of an evening at the theatre.

Finally, thanks to the generosity of our good friends at Brazi’s Restaurant, we’ve turned the upstairs lobby into a comfortable lounge. We’ve added plush chairs and couches and our lounge bar will be open during many of our performances, allowing patrons a place to rest and relax before a show.

In our final nod towards increased audience convenience, we will now be taking credit and debit cards in the lobby to pay for refreshments during a visit to Long Wharf Theatre.

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DISGRACED, Willy Loman, and the American Dream

In describing Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced we’ve said Amir and Emily are confronted in the play with the compromises they’ve made to stake out a piece of the American dream. But what exactly is the American dream? Would it surprise you to know then that the phrase ‘American dream’ did not appear until 1931?

Author James Truslow Adams coined the term in his book The American Epic. According to his definition the American dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” Adams was impressed with the unique resiliency of the American people in the midst of the Great Depression. Despite overwhelming challenges, Americans in general seemed to him to hold out hope that their circumstances would eventually change for the better. His explanation for this phenomenon – the American dream.

America has always been a country of ideas; one of the driving ones being that life can always be improved for everyone. You could look to the founding documents of America (The Declaration of Independence or The Constitution) or to the waves of immigrants who have come here to track the origins of this hope. Either way, Adams argues, the American people had, by the time he wrote his book, become so conditioned to this determined pursuit of improvements that it had manifested as part of the basic American spirit.

Since his creation of the term, the American dream has been a concept envied, pursued, defended, and argued about. Go and google the phrase right now. You’ll get a list of musings on whether the American dream still exists, or is even possible today. It’s a hot button topic as the country looks at the long-term effects of the recession. Alarm was raised in December 2014 when The New York Times reported that only 64 percent of the population still believed in the American dream. However, in that survey the dream was defined as the idea that “hard work could result in riches.” This consumption based definition of the American dream is very familiar and dominates our current discourse, but some argue, being a product of the mid-20th century, it’s losing relevancy today. When he created the term in 1931, Adams specified he believed the American dream was not about goods or purchasing power, but a certain level of personal happiness. In the post-World War II boom this image changed to one characterized by consumerism, external accolades, and monetary gain.

In another Pulitzer Prize-winning play, and arguably the most iconic of American plays, Death of a Salesman, playwright Arthur Miller uses his everyman Willy Loman to explore what it personally means to believe in and base the success of one’s life on this mid-20th century definition of the American dream. Like Disgraced, Death of a Salesman also examines a darker side of the dream. Willy Loman and Amir are vastly different characters separated by decades, but they both pursue a similar image of the American dream. In the late 1940s Willy believes by having worked hard as a traveling salesman for years he’ll be rewarded with a desk job at his company’s headquarters. In order to achieve it he has sacrificed his relationships with his wife and sons. In the 2010s Amir believes by hiding and denying his Muslim identity and working long hours he’ll eventually make partner at a prestigious New York law firm. Both of these characters maintain a staunch pursuit at all costs of success based on this idea of the American dream, and they both end up bringing harm to themselves and their families because of it.

The dominant opinion of what the American dream is has gradually been evolving since the term was invented. In her autobiography Eleanor Roosevelt said, “the American dream can no more remain static than can the American nation.” The world we live in today is very different than the world of 60 years ago so it makes sense that we might be reevaluating by what standard we measure our successes and confused as to what the American dream looks like now. However, plays like Disgraced and Death of a Salesman remind us that, in spite of its evolution, following the popular opinion of what this dream looks like is not always the right prescription for everyone. When looking to figure out what the American dream really is, the best place to look may be inward and the better question to ask may be: ‘How do YOU define the American dream?’

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