Jacob G. Padrón, 38, has been named the new Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre and will begin his role February 1, 2019.
“Long Wharf Theatre is one of the most important companies in the American theatre. I am overjoyed to join the board, staff, and New Haven community as we embark on new journey and aim to build a boundary breaking future together,” Padrón said.
The Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of Padrón at a meeting Tuesday night, completing a lengthy and competitive executive search process guided by Arts Consulting Group. The board received over 160 applications from individuals interested in becoming the institution’s fifth artistic director
“Jacob Padrón is the future of American theatre. He represents an exciting new generation of theatre leaders – people who are humble, creative, curious, dynamic – and who have an ear for the fresh voices and ideas that make live theatre so relevant and necessary,” said Laura Pappano, chair of the Board of Trustees. “He comes to Long Wharf Theatre at an ideal moment as we refresh and reset the theatre for a new era, one that respects the past but also seizes on the role theatre can have in public life. Jacob accentuates all the best things Long Wharf has always stood for, including a passion for new work, and a dedication to nurturing talent. While, of course, bringing our audiences compelling, high quality theatre (and a first peek at tomorrow’s stars).”
Padrón combines extensive industry experience – posts at The Public Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – with a vision for what’s possible and what’s next. In 2016, he founded The Sol Project, a national theatre initiative that showcases Latinx playwrights and artists of color through collaborative partnerships with leading theaters in New York and across the country, most recently with Yale Rep (EL HURACÁN).
“The board has made a perfect choice. Jacob is the total package. He will continue to make Long Wharf an artistic home for the country’s most exciting theatre artists. By living here, he will be attuned to the tastes and interests of our community. Also, he is a kind, generous, and thoughtful individual, who will make a terrific partner and leader. I am greatly looking forward to our work in the coming years,” said Managing Director Joshua Borenstein.
Padrón is an artistic producer by training, making his background different than Long Wharf Theatre’s previous artistic leaders, who were all directors. Through The Sol Project, Padrón has championed the work of Hilary Bettis (Alligator), Martín Zimmerman (Seven Spots on the Sun), Luis Alfaro (Oedipus El Rey), and Charise Castro Smith (El Huracán). At Steppenwolf and Public Theater he supported new work by Tarell Alvin McCraney (Head of Passes), Ike Holter (Hit the Wall), Janine Nabers (Annie Bosh is Missing), Edith Freni (Buena Vista), A. Zell Williams (The Urban Retreat), Mary Kathryn Nagle (Manahatta), Universes (Party People), Stew & Heidi Rodewald (The Total Bent), Tracey Scott Wilson (Buzzer), Lemon Andersen (Toast), and Suzan-Lori Parks (Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 and 3) among many others.
In addition to his consistently high level of artistic achievement, Padrón prides himself as a theatrical generalist, someone who is as comfortable reviewing a budget or a marketing plan as he is giving notes to artists and reading scripts. “The American theater has a powerful promise to deliver on: it can be a space to hold all our stories. But we, the theater makers, are the architects of fulfilling that promise and I feel blessed to continue this work at Long Wharf,” Padrón said. “I am committed to supporting stories that are in conversation with the world – stories that are brave, inclusive, intersectional, and reflect the glorious kaleidoscope of our city and our country.”
Upon graduating from Loyola Marymount University in 2003, Padrón spent time volunteering with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, providing care for those living with HIV/AIDS in North Carolina. He thought for a time that he might pursue a career in social work. “On its best days, theatre is social work – a catalyzing force that can do good in the world,” he said. “Our stages must illuminate our shared joys and struggles as we work in community and create the path towards liberation and imagine the impossible for our art form. I have a life in the theater because of El Teatro Campensino, a company that taught me that we must dream today, dream tomorrow, and keep using the American theater for our very best days ahead.”
Some of the most innovative theatre artists in North America praised Padrón’s appointment.
“Jacob Padrón is one of the most dedicated, passionate, articulate, and thoughtful leaders in our field. He creates theater that is an invitation to see one another and to be seen. Working with him has changed the way I approach making space for artists and audiences of color and I know countless of other theater leaders and artists who he has similarly influenced. Long Wharf’s future is big, bold, and beautiful with Jacob Padrón as its new Artistic Director,” said Daniella Topol, artistic director of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York City.
“As a vital part of the artistic team, Jacob helped launch my tenure at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He will bring the same generosity of spirit, passionate commitment to diversity, and excellent taste to bear as artistic director of Long Wharf. His appointment is a thrilling development for greater New Haven, a community which I know and love dearly, as well as our national field,” said Bill Rauch, the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
“Hearing the news of Jacob’s appointment absolutely thrilled me. He is the kind of arts leader that will inspire many perspectives to come to the creative table. His work with The Sol Project was instrumental in me making my New York debut as a director. He is a brilliant mind who creates spaces where artists feel empowered to do their best work. I have no doubt he will make an incredibly positive impact on our theatre ecology in this role,” said Weyni Mengesha, Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre Company in Toronto, Canada.
For more information, visit longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.
About Jacob G. Padrón
Padrón began his life in the theater with El Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista, California.
He is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Sol Project, a national theater initiative that works in partnership with leading theater companies to amplify the voices of Latinx playwrights and build artistic homes for artists of color in New York City and beyond. Under his leadership, The Sol Project cultivated a network of Off-Broadway and regional theaters committed to building a body of work by Latinx writers for the new American theater. Since its launch, The Sol Project has championed four writers with productions of their work: Hilary Bettis (Alligator), Martín Zimmerman (Seven Spots on the Sun), Luis Alfaro (Oedipus El Rey), and Charise Castro Smith (El Huracán). The Sol Project also launched a new summer play festival, SolFest, in partnership with Pregones Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater.
Prior to The Sol Project, Padrón held senior-level artistic positions at theater companies across the country. He was the Senior Line Producer at The Public Theater where he worked on new plays, new musicals, Shakespeare in the Park, and Public Works. During his tenure at The Public he supported new work by Tarell Alvin McCraney (Head of Passes), Scott Z. Burns (The Library), A. Zell Williams (The Urban Retreat), Mary Kathryn Nagle (Manahatta), Universes (Party People), Stew & Heidi Rodewald (The Total Bent), Tracey Scott Wilson (Buzzer), Lemon Andersen (Toast), Richard Nelson (The Gabriels), Suzan-Lori Parks (Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 and 3), Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub (Twelfth Night), among many others.
Padrón was formerly the Producer at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago where he oversaw the artistic programming in the Garage – Steppenwolf’s dedicated space for new work, new artists, and new audiences. From 2008 to 2011, he was an Associate Producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where he was instrumental in producing all shows in the 11-play repertory. In addition, he was a part of the producing team that transferred OSF productions to Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Next Wave Festival). In 2006, he was the producer of Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays for Center Theatre Group, a collaboration that included 50 theaters to launch Festival 365 in Los Angeles.
He was an inaugural recipient of the SPARK Leadership Program administered by Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and has adjudicated on grant panels for TCG, Network of Ensemble Theaters, The Drama League, SDC Foundation, United States Artists, and American Theatre Wing.
Padrón was most recently on staff at WarnerMedia (HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner) where he helped lead the company’s philanthropy in theater and film. He is on the faculty at Yale School of Drama where he teaches artistic producing in the graduate theater management program. He also sits on the board of directors for People’s Theatre Project based in Washington Heights, NYC.
A graduate of Loyola Marymount University (BA) and Yale School of Drama (MFA), Padrón is a co-founder of Tilted Field Productions and the Artists’ Anti-Racism Coalition. He is an alumnus of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, a volunteer program committed to social justice around the world.