'The Crucible'

The first production of New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre was Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." (Long Wharf Theatre)

Local politicians said Long Wharf Theatre placement in the city's meat packing district was like adding "cabbages to Tiffany's."

Jon Jory was 24 when he left Yale School of Drama after his second year to start Long Wharf Theater.

"We would go around to little parties and give little speeches and try to get people to give us $500," he said in a 1993 interview with The Courant. "I cant imagine what these people, who were putting themselves in the hands of these unruly children who wanted to do plays, said after we went home. But in the end, they were extremely generous. But I was a constant nervous wreck, and I had no idea what I was doing. We were certainly energetic. I don't think people could have done more than what we did. How well we did it is entirely open to question.

"I saw myself as making myself a job. There were some visionaries at the time. Andre Gregory in Philadelphia. Bill Ball in San Francisco. And probably a few others. I think they had something they wanted to say and were pursuing a structure to support that artistic vision. But I think the rest of us were mainly energetic hustlers."

Two years later Jory was fired, leaving the theater in a $35,000 deficit. He was succeeded by a Yale pal, Arvin Brown, who was associate director of Long Wharf's children's theater. Brown remained in that position for more than 30 years, succeeded by Doug Hughes and its present artistic director, Gordon Edelstein.

The premiere of David Rabe's "Streamers," back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes for "The Shadow Box" and "The Gin Game," and later for "Wit," more transfers to New York than perhaps any Connecticut theater were just a few of the theater's distinctions.

The Courant reported on its 25th anniversary, too, when a celebration was held in New York and was attended by a host of celebrities, including Al Pacino, Jason Robards, Frank Langella, Kevin Spacey, James Naughton, Stockard Channing, Victor Garber, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Erica Jong.

This year Long Wharf celebrates its 50th anniversary season.