New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre has hired Jacob Padrón DRA ’08 to be its new artistic director, according to a Thursday press release.

Padrón is currently a lecturer at the Yale School of Drama with an extensive background in the arts. He will replace former artistic director Gordon Edelstein, who was fired earlier this year due to allegations of sexual harassment.

“As an artistic director, my role is focused on the future and I think the company is poised to make change,” Padrón told the News. “I think the future looks really bright for Long Wharf.”

Long Wharf was founded 52 years ago in a national movement to create regional theaters and received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.

Last January, four women told the New York Times that Edelstein had sexually harassed them in various forms during his 15-year tenure at Long Wharf.

Since then, Long Wharf has undergone an internal review from an ad hoc committee to address equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as an investigation from a consultant.

Maria Trumpler, a senior lecturer in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies, was invited to organize a workshop on sexual harassment before the Edelstein allegations to address the climate of the theater.

“There are so many ways that theater is a place that sexual harassment is easy to happen. There’s a cult of a genius,” Trumpler said. “When you have  a genius, they’re given a lot of latitude in their social behavior.”

Long Wharf’s board chair Laura Pappano ’84 described the allegations against Edelstein as “very overwhelming and numerous.”

According to her, the allegations’ revelations culminated in the board’s unanimous vote to remove Edelstein from his position.

“I became aware of feeling that it wasn’t necessarily sexual harassment but more of a bullying culture that was not conducive to productivity and happiness,” Pappano said. “The theater is not just for the people who go and watch. We work to put ourselves in a position to be ready for a new kind of leadership. Are we there yet? No. But it’s a work in progress.”

Padrón was chosen after the board reviewed more than 160 candidates, Pappano noted.

The theatre is known for cultivating, supporting and nurturing young artists. Walking through the space, one can see lists of big names in New York who got their start at Long Wharf, Pappano noted.

“Jacob represents a new generation of theater leaders,” she said. “He is creative, dynamic, energetic and humble. He cares about the stories of the people in the theater, not just the ones going on stage.”

Padrón said that he sees Long Wharf as one of the most important theaters in the country and hopes to build on its legacy.

“Because I went to Yale and am a part of the New Haven community, I’m excited to give back to the city that gave me so much,” Padrón said.

In his role as artistic director, Padrón said he hopes to incorporate his work with The Sol Project — a national initiative to promote Latinx voices in theater — into Long Wharf’s programming.

The Sol Project was launched in 2016 to partner with leading theater companies to advance Latinx playwrights’ voices in New York and beyond.

“I think I have always been committed to theater being a catalyst for social movements,” Padrón said. “I hope to bring that value system to the work of the theater.”

Pappano, a Poynter fellow, will lead a conversation on the #MeToo movement with panelists at the Loria Center Tuesday night.

John Besche | john.besche@yale.edu