Bay Street Theater announced a series of new programs and changes last week. Some might appear cosmetic — a new name (Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts), a new mission statement, and a newly designed logo — but all are in line with two objectives: to make the theater a more inclusive place, while at the same time raising money for the nonprofit organization.
One such program that was introduced Friday during a press conference held by Scott Schwartz, the organization’s artistic director, and Tracy Mitchell, its executive director, is the Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative. John Glover, a founding member of Bay Street who is appearing in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” will play the role of Prospero in “The Tempest” in a staged reading over two nights. The first reading will be for donors at a private residence the evening of Aug. 16, followed by a cocktail party. Donors “can sponsor a character,” with donations from $500 to $5,000, Mr. Schwartz said. There will be a free public reading the next evening at an outdoor venue, the location of which will be announced shortly.
Part of the company’s new mission is to ensure that the theater is seen as a year-round cultural center. Toward that end, Mr. Schwartz said that the New Works Festival, which was held in April, will be returning next year.
While the organization is seeking donations from those who can afford it, Bay Street is also reaching out to those who can’t, Ms. Mitchell said. One such example is an expansion of its Literature Live! program for schools. This fall’s production will be the stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “We had a dozen schools this past year that really wanted to come, but couldn’t do it, even at the $10 level.” This year, the program will be available to those students for free. “For many of them, this may be the only live theater that they see.”
Also available for young people this summer are theater camps, which will be held at the Southampton Arts Center and at Studio Three in Bridgehampton. All this is being done under the guidance of Julia Motyka, the theater’s education director.
There will be no waste of theater space, as Mr. Schwartz announced Blackout at Bay Street, which he describes as “a late night immersive cabaret, offering cutting-edge cabaret and avant garde theater performances in the lobby.” There will be performances three Friday and Saturday nights this summer, with July 18 and 19 being the first.
The theater is also continuing its popular Comedy Club on Monday nights this summer.