Echoes of the past with the distinct tang of something entirely new are unfurling this week in a New Works Festival at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor.
Produced in association with SPACE on Ryder Farm and co-curated by Bay Street’s new Artistic Director Scott Schwartz and SPACE Executive Director Emily Simoness, the three-day festival will feature free admission for staged readings of three new plays on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 25 to 27, and an Artist Interact playwrights panel discussion followed by a cocktail reception on April 26; $20 admission.
The first play of the festival will be “Fight Call” by Jess Brickman, on Friday (April 25), at 8 p.m. On Saturday (April 26), also at 8 p.m. the reading will be “The Orchard Play” by P. Seth Bauer. Wrapping up the festival on Sunday, (April 27) at 2 p.m. will be “The May Queen” by Molly Smith Metzler. There will be a talkback following each reading. Sponsored by the Dan’s Papers Literary Prize Contest, admission to the staged readings is free, but reservations are requested to ensure having a seat (631-725-9500).
The Artist Interact panel discussion with the authors starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday and will be led by award-winning writer John Weidman. The panel will explore what it means to be a playwright working today, and the ways in which new work is created and developed for the theater.
Following the discussion, a cocktail reception will provide an opportunity for the audience to meet the writers and other artists involved with the readings. Tickets for the panel and the party are $20, available in advance by calling the Bay Street box office at 631-725-9500.
Panel moderator John Weidman’s books for a wide variety of musicals—including, among others, “Pacific Overtures”, “Assassins”, “Contact”, “Happiness” and “Big”—have won or been nominated for multiple Tonys and other awards. A writer for “Sesame Street” since his children were preschoolers, he has received more than a dozen Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Children’s Program. From 1999 to 2009 he served as president of the Dramatists Guild of America.
As with the fall and spring play reading series offered at Bay Street in the past, the focus of the upcoming three-day event is “to give the playwrights a chance to hear their works in development in front of an audience and to give the audience at Bay Street and the East End community a chance to experience cutting edge voices in the theater,” according to the release announcing the 2014 festival.
“I am pleased to open the 2014 season at Bay Street with our first annual Bay Street New Works Festival,” said Bay Street Artistic Director Scott Schwartz. “We are deeply committed to new work at Bay Street, to helping develop the classics of tomorrow, and to giving our audience the chance to see theater you can’t see anywhere else.”
Along with the performances at Bay Street, the New Works Festival also offers two of the playwrights the opportunity to present a reading in New York City at Ars Nova. Jess Brickman's “Fight Call” will be read on Wednesday, April 30, at 7 p.m.; and a second play still to be determined will be given a reading on Thursday, May 1, also at 7 p.m. at the Ars Nova loft at 511 West 54th Street in Manhattan.
A backstage comedy about theater, love and getting on, “Fight Call” by Jess Brickman depicts a promising young actor and a stage veteran testing the boundaries of trust when one of them threatens to commit an act of real violence on stage during a performance.
Jessica Brickman’s plays include: “The Insomnia Play” (EST/Babel), “The Twelve Positions of Hysteria”, “Third of May” (Juilliard), “Free Fall” (Lyric Hyperion), “In Loco Parentis” and “The Little Street.”
In addition to her work as a writer in film and television, two films she made, “The Five Stages of Grief” and “I Am Not A Moose,” premiered at Lincoln Center and were official selections at many festivals during the 2013 season, including Hamptons, Palm Springs, Gotham (Best of Fest), Atlanta, Nashville, St. Louis and the LA Comedy Fest.
She has also directed web series and online pilots, including: “The Newlymovedins”, “Couch Hoppers,” “Premature” and “Babytalk.” As a journalist, she has written essays and articles about business, film, love and family.
“The Orchard Play,” by P. Seth Bauer, is a contemporary re-envisioning of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” set on a Pennsylvania farm that has been in one family for generations. For 150 years, the Olson family has tried to keep up with the times and have faced down famines, the Depression, and many wars. In today’s world, they must contend with global warming and natural gas drilling as they struggle to preserve their way of life.
Plays by P. Seth Bauer include: “Early in the Mourning”, “The Lysistrata Project”, “The Karma Cookie”, “Over the Line”, “Dahlia”, “Iphigenia”, “The Umbrella Play”, “The Burglar of Suburbia”, “The Tip”, numerous one-acts, and the book to the new musical “Leading Lady.” His works are published by Dramatists Play Service, Smith and Krause, Samuel French and New York Theatre Experience, and he teaches playwriting at the University of the Arts.
Molly Smith Metzler’s “The May Queen” starts when former May Queen Jennifer Nash suddenly resurfaces in her hometown. At first, no one is more excited than Mike Petracca, a high school flame who still carries an obsessive torch for the beauty. But when their reunion turns out to be nothing like what he expected, Mike is forced to see his golden May Queen—and himself—with new eyes in this comedy about the roles we play in each others' lives.”
In addition to her newest play, “The May Queen,” which will be produced at the Chautauqua Theatre Company in July 2014, plays by Molly Smith Metzler include “Elemeno Pea” (South Coast Rep, Humana), “Close Up Space” (Manhattan Theatre Club, Susan Smith Blackburn finalist), “Training Wisteria” (SPF, Cherry Lane Mentor Project, Kennedy Center KCACTF), and “Carve.”
Her plays have been developed at The O’Neill, MTC, Playwrights Horizons, Chautauqua Theatre Company NPW, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Ars Nova Play Group, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Primary Stages, among others. She is currently at work on commissions for South Coast Rep, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, and Manhattan Theatre Club.
SPACE on Ryder Farm is a non-profit artist residency program located an hour north of New York City on the grounds of Ryder Farm in Brewster, New York. SPACE supports artists by providing a workshop space for reinvigorating the artists' spirit and their work. www.spaceonryderfarm.com
Bay Street Theatre is a year-round, not-for-profit professional theater and community cultural center which endeavors to innovate, educate, and entertain a diverse community through the practice of the performing arts. www.baystreet.org.
BASIC FACTS: New Works Festival at Bay Street Theatre will be held from April 25 to 27. Free admission for all readings; call 631-725-9500 for reservations. www.baystreet.org
“Fight Call” by Jess Brickman: Friday (April 25) at 8 p.m.
Artists Interact Panel Discussion on Saturday (April 26) at 4 p.m., cocktail reception follows. Tickets $20; call 516-658-9441.
“The Orchard Play” by P. Seth Bauer: Saturday (April 26) at 8 p.m.
“The May Queen” by Molly Smith Metzler: Sunday (April 27) at 2 p.m.