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Long Wharf Theatre announced today additional details for fall programming at 222 Sargent Drive as part of Act 1 of its 2022-2023 season. Programming includes the first in-person reading of Dignity, Always Dignity created by Zack Fine, Bryce Pinkham, Rona Siddiqui, and Kirya Traber and directed by Zack Fine, a concert performance of Jelly’s Last Jam, directed by Dennis Whitehead Darling with creative consultation by Patricia McGregor, and the first staged reading of Flying Bird’s Diary, written by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel and directed by Madeline Sayet.
Dignity, Always Dignity will be presented on September 10 and 11, while performances for Jelly’s Last Jam will take place on September 17 and 18 and readings for Flying Bird’s Diary will take place on October 22 and 23. The performances will be among the last at Long Wharf Theatre’s longtime home at 222 Sargent Drive before it moves on at the end of October to partner with new spaces and neighborhoods across New Haven beginning in the spring.
“This bold series of new and reimagined works is a tribute to the essential joy of experiencing theatre: unforgettable performances and incredible storytelling,” said Jacob G. Padrón, Artistic Director, Long Wharf Theatre. “These are the stories that are emblematic of everything that Long Wharf Theatre tries to represent – stories that reflect the richness, diversity, and cultural depth of every corner of Connecticut. We are proud to present these performances as we get ready to carry the spirit of Long Wharf Theatre beyond our current space and into the heart of our communities.”
“We are thrilled to present Dignity, Always Dignity at Long Wharf Theatre for the first time, as a participatory, work-in-progress for audiences to collaborate with us on,” said Bryce Pinkham, co-creator and performer of Dignity, Always Dignity. “Through humor and music, we invite audiences to confront the worsening impacts of climate change in a moment when we’re reflecting on the respective one and ten year anniversaries of Hurricanes Ida and Sandy.”
“New Haven’s Dixwell neighborhood’s long history and deep connection to jazz make this celebration of Jelly Roll Morton even more meaningful,” said Patricia McGregor, Creative Consultant. “With thanks to our partnership with Dixwell’s own Stetson Library, we are grateful to present this work at Long Wharf Theatre at a time when the institution is transforming to more intentionally center communities like it with its new production model. This will be a joyous, electrifying, memorable performance for all who attend.”
“Flying Bird’s Diary is a personal story of language, tradition, culture, perseverance and heroism,” said Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, playwright, and Madeline Sayet, director, of Flying Bird’s Diary. “We are so pleased to present this work to live audiences for the first time on Long Wharf Theatre’s stage at such a special time for the institution. This is a story that needs to be told to Connecticut audiences – a story of a great Mohegan heroine that almost nobody knows: the woman who saved Connecticut’s original language, and with it, a more connected way of seeing our world.”
Work-in-Progress Reading, In-Person, 222 Sargent Drive
Created by Zack Fine, Bryce Pinkham, Rona Siddiqui, Kirya Traber
Music and Lyrics by Rona Siddiqui
Directed by Zack Fine
Performed by Bryce Pinkham
Dramaturgy by Kirya Traber
Dignity, Always Dignity follows a former Broadway star stranded alone on an island who is determined to put on one last show before the rising waters swallow him up. Combining beloved elements from the golden age of musicals, this one-man show provides a refreshing and unique take on the urgency of our climate crisis – with singing and laughing along the way.
About Jelly’s Last Jam
Concert Performance, In-Person, 222 Sargent Drive
Book by George C. Wolfe
Music by Jelly Roll Morton
Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead
Musical Adaptation and Additional Music Composed by Luther Henderson
Directed by Dennis Whitehead Darling
Creative Consultation by Patricia McGregor
Choreography by Chris Bell
Music Direction by David Freeman Coleman
In partnership with New Haven Free Public Library, Stetson Branch
At the birth of jazz in the early 20th century, one man led the band. The legendary Jelly Roll Morton revolutionized American music like no one before him. His life-the dizzying heights and inconceivable lows-becomes a thrilling theatrical ride in Jelly’s Last Jam. With an electrifying cast and a red-hot band, this concert reading spotlights the story of a trailblazing artist and celebrates New Haven’s love affair with jazz.
The cast of Jelly’s Last Jam:
Iris Beaumier (Hunnie #3), Bryan Terrell Clark (Jack the Bear/Buddy Bolden), Tina Fabrique (Miss Mamie/Gran Mimi), Carmen Ruby Floyd (Anita), Sydney James Harcourt (Jelly Roll Morton), Christian McQueen (Male Ensemble #2), Sharaé Moultrie (Hunnie #2), Justin G. Nelson (Male Ensemble #1), Jessica Hailey Reese (Female Ensemble #1), Steve Routman (Melrose Brother #2), Julian Rozzell Jr. (Chimney Man), Justin Sudderth (Young Jelly), Amaya White (Hunnie #1), Jason SweetTooth Williams (Melrose Brother #1).
Cast and creative team bios are available on the show page.
About Flying Bird’s Diary
Play Reading, In-Person, 222 Sargent Drive
Written by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
Directed by Madeline Sayet
Flying Bird’s Diary recounts the true story of a Connecticut icon and playwright Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel’s personal hero, Flying Bird – also known as Fidelia Fielding/Jeets Bodernashor (1827-1908). We first encounter Flying Bird, as a young Mohegan girl, in the 1800s, in a world attempting to erase everything she believes in. As the years pass, Flying Bird faces seemingly impossible obstacles but never loses sight of her goal: to save her language and culture against all odds.
About Long Wharf Theatre
Founded in 1965, Long Wharf Theatre (Jacob G. Padrón, Artistic Director; Kit Ingui, Managing Director) is a Tony Award-winning company of international renown. It was founded with the mission of creating an accessible theatre culture unique to the Greater New Haven community. Recognized for a historic commitment to commissioning, developing, and producing new plays to expand the legacy of storytelling in the American theatre, more than 30 of its productions have transferred to successful Broadway or Off-Broadway runs and countless others have inspired artists and audiences at theatres across the country. Guided by three core pillars of artistic innovation, radical inclusion, and kaleidoscopic partnerships, the company aspires to nurture and produce boundary-breaking theater. Long Wharf Theatre is entering a bold new chapter, moving beyond its home for nearly 60 years to activate venues, neighborhoods, and public spaces throughout Greater New Haven, underscoring its commitment to equity, inclusion and belonging in every aspect of its work.
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