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Long Wharf Theatre reopens after a long pandemic intermission

Long Wharf Theatre has returned to the stage with The Chinese Lady, the story it left nearly 18 months ago.

Audiences meet Afong Moy, believed to be the first female Chinese immigrant to the U.S. She arrived as a teenager in the 1830s and was put on display for the American public. Playwright Lloyd Suh was awarded the 2020 Horton Foote Prize for the piece.

“Great writers are also great historians,” said Jacob Padrón, Long Wharf’s artistic director.

“What Lloyd has given us is a history that I think a lot of Americans don’t know,” said Padrón. “And given the kind of cultural moment that we’re in, in terms of how the Asian American community has been treated given the coronavirus, this feels like an opportunity to really engage in meaningful and important conversations about how we understand history and how we celebrate difference and how we treat people of color.”

The Chinese Lady was in the middle of tech rehearsals last year when Long Wharf had to close due to the pandemic. Padrón believes the theater’s reopening offers a chance to recommit to a vision of art and culture for everyone in the community.

“I think that the world is on fire and that theater and storytelling can be a kind of balm, can provide much needed healing,” he said. “The theater is a space to listen, to learn, to grieve.”

He credits individual donors as well as state and federal grants with helping Long Wharf make it through the shutdown.

The Chinese Lady runs through Oct. 31.