Gordon Edelstein 9/13/12


On 9/13/2012, Gordon Edelstein, the Artistic Director at the Long Wharf Theatre in new Haven gave a talk entitled: “ Why Theatre Still Matters”. Gordon has received many theatrical awards throughout the United States.

In selecting plays for the Long Wharf, Gordon compared it to a library, providing both current books and classics that need to be kept alive for each generation. The purpose of a good play is one that stimulates reflection and interpretation as well as entertainment. The key thing he asks the audience is to walk in someone else’s shoes, especially in these times of intolerance for those who are different than us. The experience of an audience spending two hours together sharing emotions, whether they are laughter or tears, is truly the goal of a good play. According to Gordon the key 3 factors he used to select the plays for the new season were financial, programmatic and to “mix it up”. He then gave a slide show summary of six plays he is presenting for 2012-2013. They are:

  1. “ Satchmo at the Waldorf”: This play explores the relationship between Louis Armstrong and his lifetime Jewish manager. It takes place three months before Armstrong died and it focuses on the decisions he made in his career and how it affected his life.
  2. “Killing of Sister George”: Directed by and starring Kathleen Turner, it is a story of an aging celebrity, well past her prime, and her fight to keep her job and remain significant. Although it a comedy it is also very poignant.
  3. “January Joiner”: This is a dark comedy that takes place at a “fat farm”. This world premier is both thrilling and scary as it explores the psychology of body image.
  4. “ Curse of the Starving Class”: This Sam Shepard classic comedy stars Judith Ivey in a play that explores the huge challenges of a dysfunctional American family struggling to make ends meet.
  5. “Ride the Tiger”: This new play explores the “Faustian” bargain among Jack and Joe Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, the mafia boss Sam Giancana, and Judith Exner who was Sam’s mistress and who also had an affair with President Kennedy. The supposition was that the mob helped deliver the election to Kennedy in 1960, and that they were involved with his assassination because of the investigation of the mob by Bobby Kennedy.
  6. “Clybourne Park”: Winner of the 2012 Tony award, this play explores race in America, and in doing so skewers blacks and whites. It starts in the 1950’s when a white family is trying to sell their house to a black family in a predominantly white neighborhood. It then moves to 2010 to a white family is trying to buy that same house in a predominantly black neighborhood. The play is both funny and sad and will piss many people off.

During Q and A the following points were made:

1.The theatre is going thru a much needed refurbishment to improve the customer experience including better seating, larger Ladies rooms, and a redesigned lobby.

2. He understands the concern about people that are hard of hearing, but the necessary renovation for that is too expensive right now.

3. He is removing 60 seats to provide more room. This still will leave 415 seats which are economically viable.