Long Wharf Theatre Has Announced the Inaugural Class of New Commissioning Program

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Long Wharf Theatre Has Announced the Inaugural Class of New Commissioning Program

Long Wharf Theatre (Jacob G. Padrón, Artistic Director; Kit Ingui, Managing Director) has announced the inaugural class of artists for the new Long Wharf commissioning program. With the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Lord/Kubler Fund for New Work, Long Wharf Theatre has established an Artistic Opportunity Fund to commission and develop new plays that represent the kaleidoscope of the human experience, building a new American theatre repertoire that vigorously includes the voices of artists of color. Generative artists receive commissioning support and developmental resources, including workshops and readings, that respond directly to their individual needs.

Inaugural commissioned artists are Jasmin Agosto, Chris Gabo, Ricardo Pérez González and the artistic collective UNIVERSES (Steven Sapp and Mildred Ruiz-Sapp).

Artistic Director Jacob G. Padrón says, "These artists represent our future at Long Wharf Theatre. Their singular voices will contribute to the kaleidoscopic body of work we hope to create for our community at Long Wharf and for the new American theatre. They each bring joy, rigor, and a generosity of spirit to the creative process. I look forward to our ongoing artistic partnership."

Local New Haven artist Jasmine Agosto receives a commission to continue her work with Sageseeker Productions and their performance series, La Sala Femme. Sageseeker Productions produces events, projects and exhibitions with companies, organizations, activists and artists that center urban artists of color and the communities they serve, bringing them in critical conversations with broader audiences. La Sala Femme is a quarterly performance installation featuring collaborations between musicians, poets, choreographers, visual artists, DJs and food vendors from the local community. Performances start off honoring people who have passed in our communities, with a libation ritual. Featured performers are Black womxn, womxn of color, non-binary and queer folx of color. Each of the past eight productions have been in different pop-up venue spaces in Hartford thus far and will be coming to New Haven for the first time on May 16, 2020 at the State House.

"It is a critical time right now for historically white-led and white-serving institutions to break down their own oppressive structures and one way is to put funds and trust directly in the hands of Black and POC artists, particularly from the communities in which they reside, to tell their own stories," shared Agosto. "La Sala Femme has been a production that has been funded by piecing together organizational sponsorship, individual contributions, and ticket sales. To be able to receive adequate financial support so that as a producer/curator, I can focus on the art of the production and put less energy in to raising the funds to adequately pay performers and team members, is for me, not just a peace of mind, but an intentional form of reparations."

Chris Gabo receives his first professional commission from Long Wharf to work on his bold new play, LET NIGHT FALL.

"Jacob sees what I'm doing. Every time he's come to one of my shows or read one of my plays, when he speaks back to me his experience, I can viscerally feel that he sees what it is that I'm doing-so you add money to that? So many playwrights quit not because they're not good but because they can't afford to be alive. So the money, it's not nothing. That is beyond special," stated Chris Gabo. "Anyway, that being said, I wrote a play about my friends, not sure if it's a love letter or an indictment, maybe it's both."

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ensemble, UNIVERSES receives a commission to develop a new musical, MARIA, a response to cultural appropriation in West Side Story, focused on what happens to Maria after the conclusion of the classic musical.

"We are thrilled to create this new work for Long Wharf Theatre, and we are excited that the stories that shape our Nation and drive our work are valued and honored by an invitation like this," stated Steven Sapp of UNIVERSES. "We are currently celebrating 25 years of UNIVERSES and have long wanted to bring this story to life. With this commission, we introduce MARIA like you've never known her before. Our jump off point begins where the imagined Puerto Rican lives that inspired West Side Story left off. Interweaving true Puerto Rican narratives, we discover the journey of a starry eyed Puerto Rican girl through her life's journey, witnessing what she has experienced and the world she has inspired along the way."

Ricardo Pérez González commission sparks the second play in his Belonging Trilogy, which began with Long Wharf's 2019 world premiere production of On The Grounds of Belonging.

Ricardo Pérez González shared, "It's been only a few months since my play On The Grounds Of Belonging premiered at Long Wharf Theatre and began a love affair with the City of New Haven. To have Long Wharf commission me to write the second in this harrowing love story reflects not just a commitment to me as an artist but also to the audience that invested so deeply in the first of the Belonging Trilogy. I've been given a rare opportunity to foster a relationship between the New Haven community and this story of Queer Love, and I couldn't be more grateful or excited for what's to come."

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