The Sag Harbor Partnership and Steinbeck House Local Advisory Committee will celebrate the launching of Steinbeck House, a writer’s retreat center in Nobel laureate John Steinbeck’s former Sag Harbor home, on Saturday Sept. 9, with a newly penned staged reading by accomplished actors of the classic Steinbeck novel “The Winter of Our Discontent” at The Church at 48 Madison Street.

Writer, director and producer Marc Abraham has written this adaptation of the novel that is being primed for a theatrical run.  

Tickets are $125, and benefit the Sag Harbor Partnership and the Steinbeck House Local Advisory Committee. They can be purchased at sagharborpartnership.org

The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the reading at 7 p.m. 

The director, actor, and playwright Tim Blake Nelson, will direct the reading that will feature local artists, including James Badge Dale in the pivotal role of Ethan Hawley.  

A former member of the aristocracy of a village based on Sag Harbor, Ethan’s father lost their fortune and Ethan is now a clerk in the grocery store his family once owned.  

The novel grapples with morality, justice and power and was justly reviewed as marking the return to the mood and concerns with which Steinbeck wrote “The Grapes of Wrath,” the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning tale of the dust bowl migration to California in the 1930s that is the author’s best-known work.

 “The Winter of Our Discontent” reverberates with what the author saw to be the moral disintegration of American society in the latter part of the 20th century. 

Steinbeck’s cottage, which sits on Sag Harbor Cove, was purchased from the estate of his wife, Elaine Steinbeck, earlier this year by a consortium including the Sag Harbor Partnership and Southampton Town, which used Community Preservation Fund money to fund the purchase, and in partnership with the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, which will make the space available to three writers each year.

Partnership board member Susan Mead told the Southampton Town Board at their Aug. 24 work session that the first writer to set up residency in the house this fall will be Carrie R. Moore, who will be working on her first novel and wrote about her interest in Sag Harbor’s historically African American neighborhoods in her application.

The Michener Center plans to provide residencies at Steinbeck House in the fall for graduate students and graduates of the Center, in the spring for writing students at large, and in the summer to international writers, she said.

Ms. Mead added that Steinbeck House, which has just been incorporated as a non-profit, is applying for Landmark Status on the National Register of Historic Places, and public tours of the house on summer holiday weekends have been going well, with more than 350 people having already visited the house.

Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Chairman Steve Williams told the town board that there are just 90,000 federally listed historic buildings in the United States, and of them only 26,000 are landmarks.

“Being involved with arts and culture is a criteria,” he said.

More details are at steinbeckhouse.org.  

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she 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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