East End Fringe Fest Seeks to Bring New Theater to Riverhead

Riverhead's Vail-Leavitt Music Hall
Riverhead’s Vail-Leavitt Music Hall

Riverhead’s Vail-Leavitt Music Hall will be the scene in the summer of 2017 for a series of new, experimental theatrical projects.

Debbie Slevin and Cindy Clifford, who two years ago staged a series of new works called “The Apron Strings Project” at the historic theater, are now gearing up for the first-ever East End Fringe Festival, a two-week long festival of new plays and poetry running from July 26 to Aug. 6, 2017.

The organizers are currently seeking submissions of new plays that are cast and ready to be launched at the festival.

“It’s an opportunity for artists to bring new work and produce the work under our umbrella,” said Ms. Slevin in an interview in mid-November. “We give them a venue and the opportunity to put their work out there.”

There is a $25 submission fee for plays, which will be accepted through March 16, 2017 but that fee will be waived for early birds who submit their work before Dec. 15, 2016.

Ms. Slevin said each show will have three performances, and the production crew will help with tech support, but it is vital that playwrights bring works that are cast and ready to be staged.

The works will be judged by theater professionals and will be selected by mid-April.

“It’s not standard theater,” said Ms. Slevin. “We’re calling it ‘theater on the edge.’ We’re looking for a diverse audience, all different communities. It’s not mainstream “The Music Man” being put on. We want quality work.”

Plays should run up to 90 minutes, and there will be a special segment in the week’s events for short plays under seven minutes, which may be performed outside in the round as part of Riverhead’s “Alive on 25” summer Thursday evening street fair.

Ms. Slevin said she hopes the festival will help breathe more life into the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, an intimate, 19th Century second-story theater run by a non-profit that doesn’t produce its own shows, but rents the space out to visiting theatrical producers.

“The minute I walked into the theater, I fell in love,” she said. “I believe it should be filled with theater all the time. It’s a theater that wants to have productions. It has great history and a great vibe.”

The festival will also include a jazz brunch and a poetry reading, which will include works by both professional and student poets. Passes will be available to the entire festival and to individual shows. The organizers will also be looking for volunteers to help out once the festival draws near.

“The East End is full of creative people who want to put their work out there and really appreciative audiences who want to see new work,” said Ms. Slevin. “I think people are starving for things to do.”

You can submit your theatrical and poetic works on the East End Fringe Fest website, online here.

 

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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