Fifty years ago, Long Wharf Theatre was founded by a couple of Yale School of Drama grads and a group of visionary civic leaders who believed that New Haven deserved a major regional theatre. It’s a big occasion for Long Wharf, and we’ve decided to hold a series of community events to commemorate that partnership.
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is taking a leading role in sending school kids to see Our Town for free. We’ll also work with the Foundation to talk about the scourge of gun violence in our community, inspired by our production of brownsville song (b-side for tray). We will continue to work with the New Haven Free Public Library to increase access to the theatre for everyone. Our education department will work with students to create a spoken word festival inspired by the season’s play.
“We are so excited to celebrate everything which we have accomplished over the last fifty years. Yet, it is critically important that we think about the next fifty. Our hope is that our new initiatives will become the foundation for building new audiences and nurturing new artists,” said Managing Director Joshua Borenstein.
Through expanded partnerships with The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and the New Haven Free Public Library, Long Wharf Theatre will be able to reach further and wider in the greater New Haven community. Working with The Community Foundation, we will offer a week of free student matinees for Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, and will produce a city-wide convening on urban youth violence in conjunction with the production of Brownsville Song.
Long Wharf Theatre will further its deep partnership with the New Haven Free Public Library with a series of initiatives designed to increase access to the theatre. Through the Community Ambassador program, library patrons will have the chance to have a more intimate experience by seeing the show for free and attending a post-show talkback. The NHFPL will continue its successful Long Wharf Theatre Pass, allowing library patrons to check out free theatre tickets, and curate a themed collection of books for check out at every performance. In addition, the theatre and the library will host a series of Community Conversations at branches throughout the city, loosely themed around the work on Long Wharf Theatre’s stage.
Long Wharf Theatre’s expands its commitment to high quality arts education with its “Moments and Minutes Festival,” scheduled for April. The festival will be an evening of celebration where students showcase their unique perspective on life in New Haven today through spoken word performance and visual art. Using the beautiful monologues from Our Town and brownsville song (b-side for tray) as jumping off points, Long Wharf Theatre’s teaching artists will provide workshops for both teachers and students to learn spoken word techniques.
Finally, Long Wharf Theatre is working with Think Creative Group, a New Haven-based web design company, to create a 50th anniversary website. This new site, an offshoot of the current longwharf.org, will give community members interested in the theatre’s history access to a treasure trove of old photos, clippings, and other ephemera. The website is currently in the design phase and should be live in October.
It’s an exciting and busy time for the theatre. “In my mind, building our future is the most exciting opportunity presented by this milestone anniversary,” Borenstein said.
— Steve Scarpa