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Northport theater group preparing
'View From the Bridge'

When Jeff Bennett retired from 30 years of teaching high-school theater in 1997, he told friends he never realized how very tired he was.  But it wasn’t long before the creative urge took over and he started giving acting lessons in the Adult Education program in Northport Village, where he lives with his wife and son.

After five years, the acting classes became so popular that Bennett had to turn away dozens of applicants every semester. Not happy about that, he rented space in a Northport dance studio and moved his classes there. By 2008, he was teaching three classes a week — beginner, intermediate and advanced — in 10-week semesters offered twice a year. By now, he had produced dozens of showcases, several full-length plays, and founded the Bare Bones Theater Company. Not a bad record for a tired man.

In December 2008, Bennett turned a new page in the script, realizing that what he really wanted to do was produce more full-length plays. So he formed the Bare Bones Repertory Company, inviting his alumni to perform both on-stage and to fill all the backstage functions necessary to mounting a play.

“The entire process will aim to teach the art of play production,” said Bennett.

He also aims to make Bare Bones a true repertory company, with members sometimes acting, sometimes working as backstage and support crew. In true repertory fashion, the actors chosen to perform the shows will change from semester to semester. The participants continue to study the art and technique of acting under Bennett’s tutelage, but they are also exposed to every aspect of what it takes to mount a theatrical production. Within a 10-week time-line, the actors—who range from high school students through retirees—are learning about such things as casting criteria, techniques to make a scene click, the actor-director collaboration, and the functions of all the backstage and support crew.  In fact, the actors are expected to perform the jobs of producer, stage manager, set design and construction, costuming, props, lighting, sound and publicity.

The premier production of the new repertory company, “Six Degrees of Separation,” by John Guare, opened at Northport’s Posey School of Dance this past May, for six sold-out performances, and received excellent reviews.

The company’s second production, “A View from the Bridge,” by Arthur Miller, opens at Northport’s Posey School of Dance with performances at 8:00 p.m. on Oct. 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, and 31.  Set in 1950’s Brooklyn, this Miller classic tells the story of longshoreman, Eddie Carbone, whose subconscious lust for his young niece hastens a violent, terrifying fall to ruin.   Theater reviewers have called “A View from the Bridge” a Greek Tragedy, American Style.

Jeff Bennett’s vision for his new company is to offer the public a theater experience that is entertaining but that has a bit more meaning than the lightweight comedies and musicals so popular among the approximately ninety theater companies on Long Island today. 

Info: Bare Bones Repertory Company;
Performances of “A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller at 8 p.m. on Oct. 22,23,24,29,30,31

Location: Posey School of Dance, 57 Main St, Northport
Tickets: $20; or call Brown Paper tickets 1-800-838-3006

Annette Kirk and Tom Chillemi handle public relations for the Bare Bones Repertory Company.

Tags: Northport , theater , things to do

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