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Vanderbilt is new arena for Arena players

A crowd gathers in the courtyard of Vanderbilt

A crowd gathers in the courtyard of Vanderbilt Mansion awaiting the start of Arena Players' summer Shakespeare Festival "Much Ado About Nothing." Photo Credit: Liz Malone

After 39 years at its East Farmingdale main stage and second stage theater on Route 109, Arena Players moved to the Carriage House on the grounds of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport. The current Arena building is being sold to developer Isaac Kaleman, who will turn the space into a commercial rental.

For 15 years, the Vanderbilt has been home to Arena's Children's Theatre as well as its summer Shakespeare Festival, which takes place in the courtyard of the mansion.

"I think the move will be good for both of us," said Frederic De Feis, founder and director of Arena Players. "We bring people in who may be interested in returning to see what else the Vanderbilt has to offer."

He added that he will test his new North Shore audience with "more challenging plays by the likes of Pinter and Strindberg."

Arena's fall and winter season -- it's 61st -- opens Oct. 14 with the Long Island premiere of Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning play "God of Carnage." It will be followed Nov. 11 by Harold Pinter's "Betrayal."

The Carriage House seats about 90, similar in size to Arena's second stage. The current main stage at Arena seats 220. De Feis says he will move some of his seats to the Vanderbilt.

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