Are You Missing Out On New Haven’s Hidden Gem?

Long Wharf Theatre ranks #8 of the top things to do in a city FULL of entertainment.

Patrons of Long Wharf Love their theater, just see what Trip Advisor has to say:

Never a Bad Play. #1 in our eyes

My friend love going to the Long Wharf Theater. The cost of the tickets is reasonable. We sure enjoy see a Play here. The staff is wonderful and helpful. Easy parking and No charge. We are looking forward a play soon for us.

Love this Theater

The theatre was great- every seat would give you a view of the stage. The staff were friendly. Would definitely come back.

Sterling Theatre Experience

Top notch talent, excellent play selection, superb direction, and courteous service from ticket purchase to seating. So glad we made the commitment to season passes, despite the challenging traffic from Stamford to New Haven; Long Wharf productions make it all worthwhile.

Intimate, Excellent

“Great entertainment in excellent seats”

Not a bad seat in the house and you can take that check to the bank and cash it. We have been coming to Long Wharf for years. 

Not a bad seat in the house

Great, affordable live entertainment with some amazing stars. Interesting shows and there is not a bad seat in the house.

Always a good time

We have seen 4 or 5 shows in this theater and it is always enjoyable. Both theaters are relatively small – which is a good thing. Never a bad seat for very good shows and very reasonably priced. While the theaters are both small you don’t feel cramped and the seats are relatively comfortable.

New Haven gem
I think people forget about this place because it’s kind of on the beaten path, but I feel those are always the best places. If you appreciate that kind of thing, this is for you. Give the theatre a chance- you won’t regret it! Full of charm and culture.


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Long Wharf Theatre Reinvents Itself

5 reasons why you can’t miss the 2019-2020 season!

Five shows that ask big questions and deliver even bigger entertainment.

This season at Long Wharf Theater will transcend both time and place with stories which speak to our shared humanity and demonstrate our shared connections.

The 2019-2020 season will introduce important voices that speak to our collective past, present and future to New Haven audiences. The season opens with the world premiere of Ricardo Pérez González’s beautiful love story, On the Grounds of Belonging. Also featured is the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play of survival against great odds, Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife. Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap tells the story of a scrappy basketball hot-shot playing in high stakes game across the Pacific, and Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady is the powerful and mesmerizing tale of America’s first female Chinese immigrant.

1 – On the Grounds of Belonging

Before “love is love”, love was dangerous.

A timeless and universal story of star-crossed lovers that will sweep you away. A world premiere written by trailblazing new playwright Ricardo Pérez González and directed by David Mendizábal.

Oct 9 – Nov 3, 2019

2 – Pride and Prejudice

English Lit gets lit.

An ingenious and saucy take and Jane Austin’s classic novel about love and politics. Written by Kate Hamill and directed by Jess McLeod.

Nov 27 – Dec 22, 2019

3 – I am My Own Wife

She found peace in resistance.

A powerful and life-affirming masterpiece about the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. Written by Dough Wright and directed by Rebecca Martínez.

Feb 5 – Mar 1, 2020

4 – The Chinese Lady

You’ll look at her. But will you see her?

A deeply poetic and subversively comedic tale of Afong Moy, America’s first female Chinese “immigrant”. Written by Lloyd Suh and directed by Ralph B. Peña.

Mar 18 – Apr 12, 2020

5 – The Great Leap

You can’t change the world from the sidelines.

An enthralling and funny underdog story set among the international exhibition game between America and China. Written by Lauren Yee and directed by Madeline Sayet.

May 6 – May 31, 2020

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Long Wharf Theatre Names Hope Chavez as Artistic Producer

Chavez joins as chief deputy to Artistic Director Jacob G. Padrón as Long Wharf embarks on a mission to reinvent and reinvigorate the renowned theatre

Long Wharf Theatre (Jacob G. Padrón, Artistic Director; Kit Ingui, Acting Managing Director) is proud to announce Hope Chavez (she/her) as its Artistic Producer.

In the newly created role, Chavez will serve as the lead producer on staff and oversee all productions. She will partner with Padrón on both short and long-term artistic projects and provide strategic leadership in all areas of artistic programming. She will be instrumental in leading the operations of the theatre to ensure Long Wharf Theatre is producing all of its work at the highest level possible. She will also play a lead role in supporting the theatre’s work in the areas of inclusion, accessibility, and workplace culture.

Long Wharf Theatre’s Artistic Director, Jacob G. Padrón said, “Hope Chavez is a dynamic, thoughtful, and rigorous leader who will bring considerable experience to our company. Her strategic mind and expansive imagination will make such a meaningful difference in our work at Long Wharf. I feel honored to partner with her as we reimagine what theatre can do and the impact it can have on the world.” 

Prior to her appointment at Long Wharf Theatre, Hope served as the Programs Manager at A.R.T./New York, a service organization supporting the artistic visions and administrative needs of more than 410 nonprofit theatres in New York.

“I am elated to join forces with Long Wharf Theatre, an institution poised to lead the field in actualizing a more radically hospitable and inclusive American theatre” said Chavez, “As the Artistic Producer, it is my mission to further ground our practices in the values of anti-oppression and anti-racism. I am humbled to work alongside Jacob and Kit, the staff, our artists, and the New Haven community in cultivating a joyful and rigorous home for boundary-breaking art.”Chavez plans to move to New Haven and will begin her appointment on September 3, 2019.



Hope Chavez (she/her) is a mixed-race Latinx creative producer and arts administrator. Originally from Texas, Hope has spent the last 9 years working in the New York City theatre community. She began her work in the commercial theatre, training under Marc Routh and supporting his productions on Broadway and across East Asia. 

Following her tenure with Marc, Hope began freelance creative producing and focused on developing a practice that centered her values of equity, justice, and radical hospitality. She has produced new work by artists such as Gracie Gardner, Don Nguyen, and Rae Mariah MacCarthy, and worked in venues including LaMaMa, the Laura Pels Theatre, and The American Airlines Center. From 2016-2018, Hope was the Managing Producer of The 24 Hour Plays: Nationals, a young artist development program for actors, writers, directors, and producers ages 18-25. She was instrumental in pushing the needle forward on the program’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. 

From 2016-2019, Hope produced Keen Company’s educational program, Keen Teens. This free program allows high school students across New York to work on the development of new plays by prestigious playwrights such as Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, Leah Nanako Winkler, and A. Rey Pamatmat, among others. Hope focused on growing the accessibility of the program and deepening engagement with the local community. Earlier this year, Hope had the great honor of producing the world premiere of The Pussy Grabber Plays at Joe’s Pub featuring the work of Julia Brownell, Sam Chanse, Halley Feiffer, Sharon Kenny, Melissa Li, Sharyn Rothstein, Natasha Stoynoff, Bess Wohl and Anna Ziegler. 

Hope most recently served as the Programs Manager at A.R.T./New York, a service organization supporting the artistic visions and administrative needs of more than 410 nonprofit theatres in New York. While there, Hope was instrumental in developing the first sexual harassment prevention training program for non-profit theatres in New York. She also facilitated the creation and launch of three new programs aimed at shifting organizational culture: Diversifying Our Organizations (a cohort-based EDI learning program for board members and executive leaders of New York’s non-profit theatres), Body Autonomy (a program to prevent and combat abuse and harassment), and Access A.R.T./New York (a program to increase accessibility for disabled artists, administrators, and audience members).

Hope is a proud member of Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA) and former mentee in their 2018 cohort of the Leadership Through Mentorship Program. She is deeply committed to centering the voices and experiences of those who are historically marginalized and creating a vibrant environment that acknowledges artists’ full dignity and allows them to flourish.



Founded in 1965, Long Wharf Theatre (Jacob G. Padrón, Artistic Director and Kit Ingui, Acting Managing Director) is a Tony award-winning company of international renown and has been a leader in American theatre, producing fresh and imaginative revivals of classic and modern plays, rediscoveries of neglected works and a variety of world and American premieres.

Throughout its history, Long Wharf Theatre has created a unique home in New Haven for theatre artists from around the world, resulting in the transfer of over 30 productions to Broadway or Off-Broadway, including Napoli, Brooklyn; Satchmo at the Waldorf; My Name is Asher Lev; The Glass Menagerie; Durango; BFE; Sixteen Wounded; Wit (Pulitzer Prize); Hughie; American Buffalo; Requiem for a Heavyweight; Quartermaine’s Terms (Obie Award/Best Play); The Gin Game (Pulitzer Prize); The Shadow Box (Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award/Best Play); The Changing Room; The Contractor (NY Drama Critics Circle/Best Play); and Streamers, among many others now in the American theatre canon.

Each year, Long Wharf Theatre produces an annual season featuring original productions on its two stages, along with education programming, a new play festival, community partnerships, and a variety of special events.

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Long Wharf Theatre Names Jacob G. Padrón Artistic Director










Jacob G. Padrón, 38, has been named the new Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre and will begin his role February 1, 2019.

“Long Wharf Theatre is one of the most important companies in the American theatre. I am overjoyed to join the board, staff, and New Haven community as we embark on new journey and aim to build a boundary breaking future together ” Padrón said.

The Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of Padrón at a meeting Tuesday night, completing a lengthy and competitive executive search process guided by Arts Consulting Group. The board received over 160 applications from individuals interested in becoming the institution’s fifth artistic director.

“Jacob Padrón is the future of American theatre. He represents an exciting new generation of theatre leaders – people who are humble, creative, curious, dynamic – and who have an ear for the fresh voices and ideas that make live theatre so relevant and necessary,” said Laura Pappano, chair of the Board of Trustees. “He comes to Long Wharf Theatre at an ideal moment as we refresh and reset the theatre for a new era, one that respects the past but also seizes on the role theatre can have in public life. Jacob accentuates all the best things Long Wharf has always stood for, including a passion for new work, and a dedication to nurturing talent. While, of course, bringing our audiences compelling, high quality theatre (and a first peek at tomorrow’s stars).”

Padrón combines extensive industry experience – posts at The Public Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – with a vision for what’s possible and what’s next. In 2016, he founded The Sol Project, a national theatre initiative that showcases Latinx playwrights and artists of color through collaborative partnerships with leading theaters in New York and across the country, most recently with Yale Rep (EL HURACÁN).

“The board has made a perfect choice. Jacob is the total package. He will continue to make Long Wharf an artistic home for the country’s most exciting theatre artists. By living here, he will be attuned to the tastes and interests of our community. Also, he is a kind, generous, and thoughtful individual, who will make a terrific partner and leader. I am greatly looking forward to our work in the coming years,” said Managing Director Joshua Borenstein.

Padrón is an artistic producer by training, making his background different than Long Wharf Theatre’s previous artistic leaders, who were all directors. Through The Sol Project, Padrón has championed the work of Hilary Bettis (Alligator), Martín Zimmerman (Seven Spots on the Sun), Luis Alfaro (Oedipus El Rey), and Charise Castro Smith (El Huracán). At Steppenwolf and Public Theater he supported new work by Tarell Alvin McCraney (Head of Passes), Ike Holter (Hit the Wall), Janine Nabers (Annie Bosh is Missing), Edith Freni (Buena Vista), A. Zell Williams (The Urban Retreat), Mary Kathryn Nagle (Manahatta), Universes (Party People), Stew & Heidi Rodewald (The Total Bent), Tracey Scott Wilson (Buzzer), Lemon Andersen (Toast), and Suzan-Lori Parks (Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 and 3)among many others.

In addition to his consistently high level of artistic achievement, Padrón prides himself as a theatrical generalist, someone who is as comfortable reviewing a budget or a marketing plan as he is giving notes to artists and reading scripts.

“The American theater has a powerful promise to deliver on: it can be a space to hold all our stories. But we, the theater makers, are the architects of fulfilling that promise and I feel blessed to continue this work at Long Wharf,” Padrón said. “I am committed to supporting stories that are in conversation with the world – stories that are brave, inclusive, intersectional, and reflect the glorious kaleidoscope of our city and our country.”

Upon graduating from Loyola Marymount University in 2003, Padrón spent time volunteering with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, providing care for those living with HIV/AIDS in North Carolina. He thought for a time that he might pursue a career in social work. “On its best days, theater is social work – a catalyzing force that can do good in the world,” he said. “Our stages must illuminate our shared joys and struggles as we work in community and create the path towards liberation and imagine the impossible for our artform. I have a life in the theater because of El Teatro Campensino, a company that taught me that we must dream today, dream tomorrow, and keep using the American theater for our very best days ahead.”

Some of the most innovative theatre artists in North America praised Padrón’s appointment.

“Jacob Padrón is one of the most dedicated, passionate, articulate, and thoughtful leaders in our field. He creates theater that is an invitation to see one another and to be seen.  Working with him has changed the way I approach making space for artists and audiences of color and I know countless of other theater leaders and artists who he has similarly influenced. Long Wharf’s future is big, bold, and beautiful with Jacob Padrón as its new Artistic Director,” said Daniella Topol, artistic director of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York City.

“As a vital part of the artistic team, Jacob helped launch my tenure at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He will bring the same generosity of spirit, passionate commitment to diversity, and excellent taste to bear as artistic director of Long Wharf. His appointment is a thrilling development for greater New Haven, a community which I know and love dearly, as well as our national field,” said Bill Rauch, the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

“Hearing the news of Jacob’s appointment absolutely thrilled me. He is the kind of arts leader that will inspire many perspectives to come to the creative table. His work with The Sol Project was instrumental in me making my New York debut as a director. He is a brilliant mind who creates spaces where artists feel empowered to do their best work. I have no doubt he will make an incredibly positive impact on our theatre ecology in this role,” said Weyni Mengesha, Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre Company in Toronto, Canada.

For more information, visit or call 203-787-4282.

About Jacob G. Padrón

Padrón began his life in the theater with El Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista, California.

He is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Sol Project, a national theater initiative that works in partnership with leading theater companies to amplify the voices of Latinx playwrights and build artistic homes for artists of color in New York City and beyond. Under his leadership, The Sol Project cultivated a network of Off-Broadway and regional theaters committed to building a body of work by Latinx writers for the new American theater. Since its launch, The Sol Project has championed four writers with productions of their work: Hilary Bettis (Alligator), Martín Zimmerman (Seven Spots on the Sun), Luis Alfaro (Oedipus El Rey), and Charise Castro Smith (El Huracán). The Sol Project also launched a new summer play festival, SolFest, in partnership with Pregones Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater.

Prior to The Sol Project, Padrón held senior-level artistic positions at theater companies across the country. He was the Senior Line Producer at The Public Theater where he worked on new plays, new musicals, Shakespeare in the Park, and Public Works. During his tenure at The Public he supported new work by Tarell Alvin McCraney (Head of Passes), Scott Z. Burns (The Library), A. Zell Williams (The Urban Retreat), Mary Kathryn Nagle (Manahatta), Universes (Party People), Stew & Heidi Rodewald (The Total Bent), Tracey Scott Wilson (Buzzer), Lemon Andersen (Toast), Richard Nelson (The Gabriels), Suzan-Lori Parks (Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 and 3), Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub (Twelfth Night), among many others.

Padrón was formerly the Producer at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago where he oversaw the artistic programming in the Garage – Steppenwolf’s dedicated space for new work, new artists, and new audiences. From 2008 to 2011, he was an Associate Producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where he was instrumental in producing all shows in the 11-play repertory. In addition, he was a part of the producing team that transferred OSF productions to Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Next Wave Festival). In 2006, he was the producer of Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays for Center Theatre Group, a collaboration that included 50 theaters to launch Festival 365 in Los Angeles.

He was an inaugural recipient of the SPARK Leadership Program administered by Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and has adjudicated on grant panels for TCG, Network of Ensemble Theaters, The Drama League, SDC Foundation, United States Artists, and American Theatre Wing.

Padrón was most recently on staff at WarnerMedia (HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner) where he helped lead the company’s philanthropy in theater and film. He is on the faculty at Yale School of Drama where he teaches artistic producing in the graduate theater management program. He also sits on the board of directors for People’s Theatre Project based in Washington Heights, NYC.

A graduate of Loyola Marymount University (BA) and Yale School of Drama (MFA), Padrón is a co-founder of Tilted Field Productions and the Artists’ Anti-Racism Coalition. He is an alumnus of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, a volunteer program committed to social justice around the world.




Long Wharf Theatre is an organization of international renown producing an annual season of six plays on its two stages, along with children’s programming, new play workshops and a variety of special events for an annual audience exceeding 60,000.

Under the watch of Arvin Brown and Edgar Rosenblum for over 30 years, Long Wharf Theatre established itself as an important force in the regional theatre movement. Under the current leadership of Artistic Director Jacob G. Padrón and Managing Director Joshua Borenstein, Long Wharf Theatre continues to be a leader in American theatre, revitalizing classic and modern plays for a contemporary audience, discovering new resonance in neglected works and premiering new plays by new voices that both investigate and celebrate the unique circumstances of our time.

Throughout its history, Long Wharf Theatre has created a unique home in New Haven for theatre artists from around the world, resulting in the transfer of more than 30 Long Wharf productions to Broadway or Off-Broadway, some of which include The Glass Menagerie, My Name is Asher Lev, Satchmo at the Waldorf, Wit (Pulitzer Prize), The Shadow Box (Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award/Best Play), Hughie, American Buffalo, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Quartermaine’s Terms (Obie Award/Best Play), The Gin Game (Pulitzer Prize), The Changing Room, The Contractor and Streamers.

Long Wharf Theatre has received New York Drama Critics Awards, Obie Awards, the Margo Jefferson Award for Production of New Works, a Special Citation from the Outer Critics Circle and the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1978.

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Black Bottom and Paradise Valley:
 A Glorious History Cut Short





By Christine Scarfuto, Literary Manager

Dominique Morisseau’s Paradise Blue is set in the heart of Paradise Valley in Black Bottom—a thriving, predominantly black neighborhood that was once the epicenter of African American life and culture in Detroit. In the early part of the Twentieth Century, the city’s booming automobile industry attracted a flood of workers from around the country, and the African American population in the city exploded. Since Black Bottom was one of the few neighborhoods where African Americans were legally permitted to reside and own businesses, people flocked to the area to pursue a wealth of personal and professional opportunities. By the mid-1920s, Black Bottom contained over 350 African American-owned businesses, including hospitals, drug stores, shops, restaurants, nightclubs, bowling alleys, a movie theater, and the Gotham hotel, which was known as the best African American hotel in the world.

Paradise Valley was the central entertainment district of Black Bottom. It became a real mecca in the glory days of jazz, known for its significant contributions to American music. The number of nightclubs and theaters in Paradise Valley doubled in the post-Prohibition years, and as the city recovered from the Great Depression, it was the go-to place in Detroit to hear big band, jazz, and blues.

People from all over the city would gather in nightclubs and theaters to hear jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Ethel Waters perform.

However, institutionalized racism, discrimination, and poverty made life far from blissful in Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. Black Bottom contained some of the oldest architectural infrastructure in the city, and it began to deteriorate during the Great Depression. Simultaneously, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the National Housing Act of 1934, which established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), an agency designed to facilitate home financing and improve housing standards in the wake of the Great Depression. The FHA promised to provide guaranteed mortgages for low- and middle-income families. While the organization succeeded and was celebrated for making home ownership accessible for white people living in predominantly white neighborhoods, it refused to back housing loans to black people or to anyone living in or near a predominantly African American neighborhood. And so while the white neighborhoods and suburbs of Detroit were thriving with the help of government financing, home owners in Black Bottom and Paradise Valley were systematically prevented from getting loans to repair and rebuild rapidly deteriorating housing. Racial tensions in the city rose as overcrowding in the neighborhood worsened, until a riot broke out in June of 1943, killing 34 people and injuring 433.

Paradise Blue is set in 1949, the same year that President Harry Truman passed the Housing Act of 1949 as part of his Fair Deal legislation. The policy set aside federal financing for so-called “slum clearance” under the justification that outdated housing was a safety risk and therefore needed to be updated. Although the Act was supposed to ensure affordable housing through urban renewal projects, it often called for the demolishment of fractured neighborhoods and disproportionally affected African American and immigrant communities. The year 1949 also marked Albert Cobo’s divisive mayoral campaign in Detroit. Cobo promised to protect white neighborhoods from what he called the “negro invasion,” and to level the “slums” and sell that land to private developers. Paradise Blue is set in the months following Cobo’s election for mayor, when there was a real uncertainty in the air regarding what would happen to Paradise Valley. Cobo served as the mayor of Detroit from 1950-1957. On his watch, the most densely populated African American neighborhoods in Detroit—Black Bottom and Paradise Valley—were leveled to make way for Interstate 75 and Lafayette Park, a residential neighborhood. This “urban renewal project” wiped out 400 businesses and put 7,000 families out of their homes, and since more than 90 percent of the residents of Black Bottom were tenants, they were displaced with nowhere to go.

The federal and local policies of the 1940s and 50s had a massive effect on the city in the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Detroit lost over 60 percent of its population between 1950 and 2010, and the city has become notorious for its urban blight: over half of the residential lots in the city are abandoned today. But for the first time since the 1950s, Detroit is growing. As of 2017, the median household income is rising, criminal activity is decreasing by five percent annually, and the city’s blight removal project is well underway. In 2017, the New York Times pointed to a cultural and economic resurgence starting to happen in the city. Detroit’s current mayor, Mike Duggan, is doing everything he can to make sure the city champions inclusivity, diversity, and the hope of revitalization. Perhaps most significantly, Duggan publicly acknowledges that the choices the city’s administration made in the 1940s and 50s are at the root of the city’s problems today. Paradise Valley and Black Bottom may no longer exist, but hopefully a thorough understanding of their history will keep Detroit and other American cities from repeating the horrific actions of the past.

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An Interview with Playwright Jen Silverman

By LWT Literary Manager Christine Scarfuto

The Roommate navigates territory that we typically ascribe to college freshman and twentysomethings. You meet a relative stranger and have to negotiate the intimate, absurd territory of sharing a living space, from strange food in the pantry and odd boxes in the corner to determining what your relationship will be (Good friends? Acquaintances? Silent sharers of the kitchen in the wee hours?). It’s not a narrative we think of when we imagine divorced women in their fifties suffering from empty nest syndrome. And yet, in The Roommate, Jen Silverman writes a play in which these two disparate realities come together, forcing us to look at middle aged womanhood in a whole new light.

Silverman is no stranger to New Haven—her play The Moors, an absurdist comedy inspired by the world of the Brontë sisters, was presented at Yale Rep in 2016, and her play with music All The Roads Home, about three generations of women fighting to find their way in the world, was presented at Long Wharf’s New Works Festival last year. Long Wharf is thrilled to welcome her back to New Haven, along with longtime collaborator Mike Donahue. The two premiered The Roommate at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2015. Since then, the play has had a robust life nationally, with productions at South Coast Repertory, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Steppenwolf Theatre among others. Literary Manager Christine Scarfuto recently sat down with Silverman to ask her a few questions about The Roommate.

Q: Can you talk about where the play came from?
A: It’s rare for us to see exciting, provocative, complicated, morally ambiguous portraits of older women onstage or on screen. There’s something so sanitized about the images we receive of women who are, say, over thirty-five—and that image doesn’t actually mesh with the fifty- and sixty-year old women I know, who are hilarious and complex and fascinating. I wanted to write a play that gave two female characters the same due that older male characters receive much more often.

The origin point of the play is that my partner’s mother was, briefly, living with a roommate her age. Hearing her stories, I was fascinated by what it means for two adult women to navigate living together, and my imagination took off from there.

Q: The play does a marvelous job of playing on our assumptions about Sharon: she’s a woman in her fifties, an empty-nester, a recent divorcee whose only social obligation is her Thursday night reading group, and so we assume she is lonely, feeling a loss of purpose, and set in her ways. But the play quickly turns all of that on its head. Why are we so quick to think of women of a certain age in this light? Why did you want to subvert that image?
A: I think there are so few nuanced images of women in general in our society. Even younger women, in a different way—the Madonna-Whore dichotomy is alive and well in 2018. I think there are deeply-rooted reasons for this: there’s a deep-seated cultural fear or unease around female sexuality, female leadership. Stories about women have, for so long, taken a back seat to stories about men. A lot of artists and writers are working to change that, which I think is so important.

Q: The play is ultimately about change—about embracing the new, the next big adventure, even when it feels too late to do so. What makes this transformation so exciting for Sharon? For Robyn?
A: I think we all reach moments in our lives where we feel trapped by the accumulated decisions we’ve made, by the things we’ve become accustomed to. We may not even be aware that we’re unhappy—we’re just mired in the status quo. Sharon’s status quo is her loneliness and her feeling of being invisible; similarly, Robyn has been moving through the world as a lone wolf of sorts, although in much different circumstances. The two of them create a combustible energy together—they can imagine themselves differently, because they create a new space of imagining together. Once you can see a new life for yourself, the natural next step is to reach for it.

Q: This play is very different from a lot of your other work, which tends to be less realistic in nature. And yet, The Roommate shares the same dark, comedic, absurd tone of some of your more obviously theatrical plays. Did you set out to write a realistic play? And, how do you think The Roommate is in conversation with your other plays? How is it not?
A: I’d never written a true two-hander before, nor had I ever written a play that masqueraded as American realism (unit set, etc.). I was interested to explore and then subvert that particular set of conventions. For all that, The Roommate isn’t quite what I’d call realism—it exists in a liminal space, where it makes use of the conventions of American realism without staying true to them all the way.

A lot of my plays are about people seeking or finding transformation—people who are either succeeding or failing at pursuing a different vision of themselves or their lives. In this way The Roommate is in direct conversation with plays that are stylistically very different, like Collective Rage: A Play In 5 Betties (Woolly Mammoth, MCC Theater), or The Moors (Yale Rep, Playwrights Realm).

Q: What has your development process been like for the play, and why are you excited to revisit The Roommate at Long Wharf?
A: Mike Donahue and I developed and premiered the play at the Humana Festival in 2015, with Actors Theatre of Louisville. The play went on to have a fairly active life after that in other theatres, but I’d always wanted to re-examine the ending—but wanted to wait until there was an opportunity to reunite with Mike. Mandy Greenfield offered us that chance last summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and during our two weeks of rehearsal, I rewrote the last few scenes. Williamstown is a beautiful whirlwind of a process, and I’m so excited for the version of The Roommate that emerged to have its next life at Long Wharf. Mike and I feel that there is still more to learn about the thing we’ve built, and we’re looking forward to learning it together with Long Wharf audiences.

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The play explores recovery from addiction and alcoholism: Playwright Torrey Townsend









What is the genesis of Night Workers?
Though it’s always difficult to describe the linear journey of writing, the beginning of Night Workers essentially sprang from conversations Knud Adams and I had during the rehearsals for our last play, The Workshop. One of the concerns of The Workshop was with the role of art in contemporary American culture. The Workshop interrogated certain ideas our culture has inherited from the past about what it means to be an artist and the kinds of relationships artists have with the public. The Workshop was a dissection of long-standing aesthetic concepts that I think we tend to take for granted and overlook. There is a streak of nihilism and grandiosity that runs through much of the art that we make and consume, and through the identities that we forge around being “artists”, but that’s not something people talk about very much. The notion that artists are these superior, extraordinary individuals is something that’s been passed down to us from the 19th century. It’s a historically fabricated myth that you can trace back to Flaubert and Baudelaire, and then all the way up through T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound to the hostile nihilists of the theater: Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Edward Albee, etc. In the romantic cult that surrounds artists like these lurk some very negative and very destructive ideas not just about what it means to be an artist but about what it means to be a human being.

So, that was something Knud and I were discussing constantly with everyone who collaborated with us on The Workshop, and at some point during the course of putting up that play I shared a story with Knud and our producers, Fern Diaz and Matt Kagen, about a formative relationship I’d had with an artist when I was young. Basically, an older, well-established theater-maker talked me into trying to write plays when I was 19 years old. I met this person, by chance, at a point in my life when my outlook and perspective toward theater was for lack of a better word confused. I suffered back then under the unfortunate illusion that writing is some grand, sacrosanct art form accessible to only an elite few. I believed that the theater was the exclusive terrain of exalted “geniuses” like Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, and therefore an ordinary, limited human being like me could never write plays. This person convinced me I was totally wrong, and not only that I could do it but that I should do it. Without a doubt, my life changed because this person made me believe in myself. Over the years, he became a kind of teacher and guide. He instilled in me a sustained faith in the miraculous power of the theater, and he showed me the falseness of the image of the artist as someone who exists in some other realm above that of ordinary people living ordinary lives. This person died a few years ago from a struggle with alcoholism and addiction. I was deeply shaken by his death, and looking back at it now this is probably why I was talking to Knud, Fern, and Matt about it during The Workshop. Eventually, Knud said that he thought I should write a play about that relationship — a play that explores in some way recovery from addiction and alcoholism — and I took his suggestion. Night Workers is the play that emerged. The writing process led me in a hundred different, surprising, and unexpected directions, but the way it began was with that conversation with my friends, and then Knud’s prompting.

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To write Sheepdog, I had to be willing to go to an ugly place, but hopefully an honest one: Playwright Kevin Artigue









What is the genesis of Sheepdog?
It started from an emotional place. I was responding to what I was seeing and witnessing and the cascade of videos of police shootings and subsequent lack of indictments and the lack of accountability and justice. Then I did a little more of my own digging and reading, and saw that the underlying causes and systemic issues were layered and complicated. I read a couple of pieces that were impactful early on. One of them was a New Yorker profile of the officer Darren Wilson – the officer who killed Michael Brown. There was something powerful and disturbing about his inability to articulate what he had done. Partly it’s because he’s not a well-educated articulate guy. He’s working class. So when he’s forced to put words to his actions, he fails. He trips over himself and reveals an underlying racist bias that he’s blind to, that despite his good intentions he can’t overcome. That blindness is at the core of the character of Ryan in Sheepdog. The other piece of writing that greatly influenced my thinking is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. His description of officers as an apparatus of state power resonated with me.

How did you create Amina, such an interesting protagonist?
One important inspiration for Amina as a character is an officer named Nakia Jones. She was an active police officer in Cleveland and is now an author and speaker. On the heels of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and the shooting of the officers in Dallas she posted a Facebook Live video in which she became incredibly emotional and gave voice to her pain and frustration in a very brave and forthright way. She was speaking from the complicated perspective of both an African-American police officer witnessing these shootings and an African-American woman whose heart was breaking. Her message is, if you are a white officer and you are racist, take off the uniform. If you are a white officer and you are not comfortable policing the communities you are assigned to police, take off the uniform. Take it off. Don’t do this job.

She was so brave for speaking out. At that time there were few officers speaking out publicly against what we were seeing. They were mute, as they usually are. What stuck with me was her courage and the conflict that she was living everyday, the divided loyalty she and other officers like her must feel and struggle to reconcile.

When did you write the play?
I’ve written two other versions of this play that I’ve thrown out completely. This goes back to 2016. Again, I was writing from an emotional place and stepping back I could see I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know what I – a white male – had to say that would move the conversation around police violence forward or shed new light on it. It took a while to figure that out.

And once I discovered the structure and characters, it took a long time to research the piece. I interviewed a number of police officers, focusing on officers of color and women. I remain grateful to those willing to be interviewed.

Are there common themes that run through your work?
Most of my plays come from a personal place, which is also political. I’m interested in the ways larger systems of power affect our humanity, how they corrupt and disfigure it, and how this corruption seems inevitable in our economic system. I hope that in all my work you see personal relationships embedded in larger conflicts that exist outside of the world of the characters. We watch them resist and resist facing the truth, until it comes crashing down on their heads. A story starts from a real question that I’m asking myself – an ethical conflict I can’t figure out – and I interrogate myself. Writing the play is the process of that interrogation, of trying to prove myself wrong. In this case, the question of Sheepdog is: “In spite of footage and body cams, why does this keep happening? And what does it say about me that it keeps happening?” To write Sheepdog I had to examine my own whiteness, my own biases and upbringing, and be willing to go to an ugly place, but hopefully an honest one.

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I am fascinated by Love, Loss and Regret: Playwright Angella Emurwon









Could you talk a little bit about the genesis of Strings?
Strings began, really, with a friend’s request to borrow my father. Not for anything in particular, she had a father of her own but wanted to borrow mine. On the surface I understood the request. My father was not perfect, but he was special.

This request got me thinking about what fatherhood meant; who got to be called father; and how fathers are made. Of course Strings evolved to be about a lot more than that, but this is where the journey began.

Also, my plays up to that point had been mostly comedies. I am now accepting of the fact that my work will always contain humor because that is an important part of how I tell stories but at the time I wanted to write a drama, an ensemble drama to be exact, and I felt that spending time with the Lororibor family in Strings would be a good start to writing drama.

What writers do you find yourself going back to for inspiration and why?
So many many writers. I love Ugandan author Doreen Baingana (Tropical Fish). Her use of language is evocative, visceral and immersive. Reading her around the time I was deciding to become a full time writer helped me to understand and discover my voice as a Ugandan writer and director. I read everything she writes.

I love August Wilson (Two Trains Running), Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie), and Arthur Miller (Broken Glass) who create ordinary people with such power – breathing, sweating, complex people. I want to read everything they’ve written.

I will never forget how completely overwhelmed I was after reading Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things. Completely overwhelmed – by the story, by how it is written, by the lives lived in it – overwhelmed! I reread chapters from it every now and then.

I read Wole Soyinka a lot, Death and the King’s Horseman and his other plays. I like how he is able to hold together the reality, the poetic, and the spiritual of life, setting, and people without incongruence.

Over the course of your career, do you find there are common themes running through all your work?
Yes. I’m fascinated by the often “small” choices people make everyday – who to become, how to show themselves to others, how to hide themselves from others, what they choose, what they feel was chosen for them, how we choose each other, and so on.

I’m fascinated by people (especially in my country) who may elicit quick judgments from the outside about their internal lives without any attempt at investigation – coffin makers, petrol attendants, cattle herds, women (many times), young people drifting, and so on.

As a result, I am fascinated by Love, Loss, and Regret. How do these identity rich feelings come about? How to respond when different ideas and realities find space and expression within the same person? And how can I create space in my work for people to see each other?

Your career is so varied and interesting – moving from stage to film, from directing and writing, all while teaching throughout. How do these things inform each other?
I love storytelling and I love people. I think everything I’ve learned, truly learned in life, has been as a story. And I suppose I’m always trying to be in projects and places where I can tell stories to learn about things and to share what I’ve learned.

Writing is quite solitary. And I think for the most part I write to investigate and understand whatever it is I am mulling on at the time.

Directing is exhilarating. I am able to get out of my head, the intensity of creating on my own, and welcome other creators into a collaborating storytelling space. It is challenging but exciting and it pushes me to have a wider view of life and work and myself as a person.

I love love teaching. For me, it is 50% sharing my knowledge and experience and 50% making creative inquiry, the work, the dream, exciting and inspiring! The education system that was left over from colonial times emphasizes learning by rote; often emphasizing the ‘what’ of the subject at the expense of the ‘why’ or sometimes even the ‘how’. And so while what is it to make art and what are the accomplishments of making art are important conversations and often the starting point, I love getting into the conversations that tackle the why of making art and how can we expand the ways to make art. And then seeing how this makes a difference for all of us collectively, for my students, and in my own work. Then the cycle begins again as I take this experience back to the solitary work of writing, then into how I engage with my collaborators as a director, then back to my students, and on and on.

What is your favorite story in any form?
Oh my! It would be just as hard to pick a favorite meal. At the time I am experiencing a wonderful story, it is my favorite story in that particular form.

I will say I absolutely love being told stories. I love to sit down with family or friends and be told a story – real or fiction. Or eavesdropping on stories in public transportation.

This is probably because most of my family are amazing storytellers. And the best stories are when 2 or 3 of them experience something and then tell the story together. It’s wonderful.

My mom has a very dry wit, my sister has a memory for details and can invent vocabulary, one of my brothers can make up an epic journey with you as a character in the center of it (my dad could do this too), and my other brother is the best incentive for anyone to learn Swahili. He tells the best stories and the best of these are in Swahili.
I guess that’s my favorite. I love to be told stories.

– Steve Scarpa

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Long Wharf Theatre Announces Titles for 2018 New Works Festival

Long Wharf Theatre’s New Works Festival, the theatre’s fourth annual celebration of adventurous, innovative new plays, will take place September 21-22 on Stage II.

Tickets are $10 or all three readings for $24. Reservations can be made by calling 203-787-4282 or visiting There will be a happy hour with half off drinks an hour before each reading.

“The purpose of the festival is to introduce our audience to exciting new plays and playwrights and to create a pipeline for future productions at Long Wharf Theatre,” said Literary Manager Christine Scarfuto, curator of the festival.

This year’s festival will include plays by Kevin Artigue, Angella Emurwon, and Torrey Townsend.

Strings by Angella Emurwon, directed by Leah C. Gardiner, will be presented Friday, September 21 at 7 pm. “Strings is a gorgeous, rich family drama set in small village in Uganda about the return of the family patriarch after 20 years. It’s a beautifully wrought universal story that asks how you reckon with the choices you’ve made in your life,” Scarfuto said.

Kevin Artigue’s Sheepdog, also directed by Gardiner, will take place on Saturday, September 22 at 5:30 pm. “This play speaks to a lot of the issues America is facing right now surrounding police violence in the black community, both from an intellectual and emotional perspective,” Scarfuto said. “It’s also a riveting story. It really pulls you in.”

Night Workers by Torrey Townsend, directed by Knud Adams, will take place on Saturday, September 22 at 8 pm. “People from all walks of life find a communal strength in each other in this play. It’s a raw, funny, and moving tribute to people on the road to recovery from addiction. It’s about the resilience of the human spirit and how we find the will to go on when there isn’t a reason to,” Scarfuto said.

Scarfuto believes that not only will the audience be engaged and moved by the work, but that they will also have access to perspectives that are not ordinarily seen on Long Wharf Theatre’s stage. “New work is the lifeblood of the theatre, it’s what keeps the art form vital and alive. We’re thrilled to bring these new voices to our audience. It’s a great opportunity for people in the community to meet and mingle with artists and fellow theatregoers, to see great work and have a good time. That’s the energy we want to cultivate at the festival,” she said.

The festival is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Burry Fredrik Foundation.

For more information, visit or call 203-787-4282.



by Angella Emurwon
Directed by Leah C. Gardiner
Friday, Sept 21 at 7pm

In a small village in Uganda, Maama has ruled her home with a firm hand for 20 years in her husband’s absence. But when she discovers his return is imminent, she and her two grown children must confront a whirlwind of love, loss, and regret. A richly satisfying family drama about the stories we tell ourselves in order to accept the life we’ve chosen.


by Kevin Artigue
Directed by Leah C. Gardiner
Saturday, Sept 22 at 5:30pm

Amina, a black police officer, falls hard for her white partner Ryan—until he shoots a young black man in the line of duty. Sheepdog is a riveting drama that asks whether you can trust your heart if the story keeps changing and you don’t know who or what to believe.


by Torrey Townsend
Directed by Knud Adams
Saturday, Sept 22 at 8pm

Set in an old bar-turned-Alcoholics Anonymous clubhouse in Brooklyn, Night Workers tells the story of a disparate group of people that cling to each other for hope.  This raw, funny story details the heartbreak, joy, and transcendence they find on the road to recovery.



Kevin Artigue (Sheepdog) writes plays, TV, and film. He was raised in Redlands, CA and lives in Brooklyn. His plays have been developed with Page 73, the Public Theater, South Coast Rep, the National New Play Network, New York Theater Workshop, Portland Center Stage, Golden Thread, Theatre of NOTE, the Playwrights Foundation, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Great Plains Theatre Conference, University of Iowa, and the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. He’s formerly a member of Interstate 73 Writers Group and the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group. MFA: Iowa Playwrights Workshop.

Angella Emurwon (Strings) is a Ugandan award winning Playwright, a Stage Director, Filmmaker, and writing mentor. She has written two BBC awarded radio plays The Cow Needs a Wife (2010) and Sunflowers behind a Dirty Fence (2012), and two short plays for Climate Change Theater Action, Prayer (2015) and Bare Spaces (2017) that have been performed in Lithuania, USA, and Canada. She wrote a short film How to kill a Cockroach (2010) directed by David Tosh Gitonga and has just completed post production on Sunday (2018) a short film she wrote and directed. She has been mentoring screenwriters in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, as part of the Maisha Film Lab Mentor Team since 2014. Angella is passionate about storytelling as a means of learning about and from each other. Her play Strings was developed at the 2013 Sundance East Africa Theater Initiative, and workshoped at the 2014 Kampala International Theatre Festival. Strings was also selected for a reading at the 2015 PEN World Voices International Play Festival, as well as the opening play at the 2017 Kampala International Theatre Festival.

Torrey Townsend’s (Night Workers) most recent play THE WORKSHOP was produced by theater incubator SoftFocus, directed by Knud Adams, and starred Austin Pendleton. The play was received positively by critics. A New York Times “Critic’s Pick”, THE WORKSHOP is described as “an incisive and insightful tale of ambition and envy, inspiration and mediocrity.” Sarah Holdren of says the play’s “combustion of frustration and exhilaration makes for one hell of an evening of theater.” Torrey holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University. Other works include A NIGHT OUT and HOME UNIVERSE (Knud Adams, director).


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