UPDATE Wednesday: Gordon Edelstein, artistic director of the Tony Award-winning Long Wharf Theatre since 2002, was fired Tuesday night and barred from the premises of the New Haven, CT company. The Long Wharf board acted one day after on-the-record revelations of sexual assault and harassment were published in a blistering New York Times report. Managing director Joshua Borenstein has been appointed interim artistic and managing director while the board determines how to select a new artistic director, according to the board chair, Laura Pappano.
“We must ensure that nothing like this happens again,” Pappano said in a statement released by the board. “This is a time that demands sober self-reflection and openness.”
EARLIER: Gordon Edelstein, artistic director of Connecticut’s Tony Award-winning Long Wharf Theatre and a frequent director on New York stages, was put on administrative leave today. The resident company’s board is investigating charges of sexual harassment leveled by several women, four of whom detailed their experiences in a New York Times article published Monday afternoon. The board will meet tomorrow, according to the Times, to discuss the allegations.
“These allegations are deeply upsetting,” board chair Laura Pappano told the paper. “We simply cannot and will not tolerate behavioral misconduct in the theater workplace.”
But some of Edelstein’s accusers said they had reported incidents of harassment and assault to persons in positions to take action, only to see little or no consequences.
“The theater is complicit in this behavior,” Meghan Kane, a former assistant director of production at Long Wharf, told the Times. “There are other administrators that know about his inappropriate behavior; there are board members.” She added, “It’s not just about one person — it’s about an entire company of people.”
Edelstein frequently works in New York, most recently on Broadway with a revival of Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca, and off-Broadway with Napoli, Brooklyn, both of which were Roundabout Theatre Company productions. The Long Wharf produced the world premiere of Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower, which closed last week on Broadway after a sold-out run starring Amy Schumer.
The assertions regarding Edelstein, which include sexual coercion, crude sexual behavior with women under his management and inappropriate sexual comments in private and public settings, are the latest to hit the theater world in the wake of scandals that have brought down power players in Hollywood and Washington. Most prominently, accused of inappropriate and coercive sexual behavior include playwright and director Israel Horovitz; Albert Schultz, a founder and artistic director of Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre, and actor Ben Vereen.
Edelstein’s unwanted advances, Michael Paulson reported in the Times, began shortly after his arrival at the New Haven theater in 2002. Paulson wrote that his reporting was based on 24 interviews with current and former Long Wharf employees. They include actress and playwright Halley Feiffer and Laura Collins-Hughes, currently a frequent contributor to the Times as a freelance drama critic.
Collins-Hughes was the arts editor of the New Haven Register in 2003 when, while attending a gala for the Long Wharf, Edelstein, she said, “kissed me on the lips, and his lips were wet, and it was lingering and disgusting.” She said did not report the incident to the theater.