Long Wharf Theatre & New Haven Free Public Library to Host Evening Celebrating New Partnership

Long Wharf Theatre & New Haven Free Public Library to Host Evening Celebrating New Partnership

Long Wharf Theatre and the New Haven Free Public Library will host an evening celebrating partnership and community, marking the beginning of the organizations' 2015-16 partnership.

The celebration will take place on Friday, September 25 from 6 to 8 pm at the Ives Main Branch, located at 133 Elm Street in downtown New Haven. Please use the Temple Street entrance. There will be a presentation of the partnership's 2015-16 season offerings, along with a scene from LWT's upcoming production of Disgraced, spoken word performance, and free refreshments.

LWT and the NHFPL will offer myriad opportunities during the 2015-16 season for education, reflection, and discourse through a series of talks, films, performances, engaging with the people of New Haven about the subjects important to us all.

The season partnership will focus around the productions of Disgraced, by Ayad Akhtar, and Having Our Say, by Emily Mann. Both plays deal in some way with the notion of the American Dream - the Pakistani lawyer at the center of Disgraced has to sacrifice his heritage pursuit of his goals, while the 101 and 103 year old African-American Delany Sisters in Having Our Say navigated the twists and turns of the 20th century in America with grace but not without their own challenges. These vast political and social issues will fuel the library/LWT conversation about how it relates to our lives here in New Haven for each show.

"Our collaboration with the Library has become the cornerstone of our community engagement with New Haven. It allows all New Haven residents who are intellectually curious to experience both of our organizations' offerings, with the elimination of nearly all barriers to participation. We are delighted to provide so many free programs, and we honored by this partnership's national recognition" said Joshua Borenstein, Managing Director of Long Wharf Theatre

"The Library's collaboration with Long Wharf Theatre enables the two organizations to create a lively forum for civic engagement," said Martha Brogan, City Librarian. "With performances and programming at Long Wharf and across all five library branches, literature and the performing arts become tools for community conversations open to all New Haven citizens."

The partnership between the library and the theatre began in April 2012 thanks to a grant facilitated by the 'Co-Creating Effective and Inclusive Organizations' Project, a two-year pilot funded by Bill Graustein. The partnership was also recognized as a "best practices" case study in Theatre Communications Group's Audience Revolution Initiative.

The relationship has been continually evolving. The foundation has been several simple, yet impactful ideas. Long Wharf Theatre offers a pass for check out at the NHFPL for a pair of tickets to any performance. This pass has allowed over 1,600 New Haven residents to attend Long Wharf Theatre productions free of charge. In addition, the theatre has become home to a library microbranch stocked with books about the subjects and themes presented in the play currently on stage.

The organizations have also partnered to hold programming at every library branch over the past several seasons. The conversations fostered have been wide reaching, ranging from the effects of gentrification on the New Haven community, to religious matters, to the role the media plays in urban violence. There have been moments of intense personal reflection and spontaneous performance - the kind of emotional expressions possibly when the profound impact of literature and theatre is married to two committed community organizations intent on give people the opportunity for expression.

The conversation hasn't just been an outward one. Over the course of the partnership between the organizations, library and theatre administrators have been discussing issues of inclusivity and social justice within their own organizations and the city at large, as well as how engagement in literature and theatre can help address these issues.

For more information about the organizations, visit www.longwharf.org or www.nhfpl.org.

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