A Weekend of New Plays at Bay Street

Cutting-edge theater read by professional actors
Andrew Lippa and Jules Feiffer celebrated at Bay Street Theater after the reading of Mr. Feiffer’s “The Man in the Ceiling” at last year’s New Works Festival. Mr. Lippa wrote the music and lyrics. Bay Street Theater Bay Street Theater

Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater will present its annual New Works Festival this weekend with free readings of four plays in development, starting tomorrow evening at 7 with “Molly Sweeney: A New Musical,” which is based on the play by Brian Friel.

The mission of the festival is to afford playwrights an opportunity to hear their works in front of an audience, and for the East End community to see cutting-edge theater read by professional actors, with minimal staging.

Whether by coincidence or not, three of this year’s productions deal in very different ways with physical impairments — blindness and memory loss. With book by Eric Ulloa and music and lyrics by Caleb Damschroder, “Molly Sweeney” is about a 41-year-old woman, blind since infancy, who is offered the opportunity to restore her sight through surgery.

“Thomas Murphy,” adapted by Roger Rosenblatt from his novel of the same name, follows an aging Irish poet who lives alone in Manhattan, reflects on his past, and faces his future with wit, lyricism, and apprehension. His life takes a sharp turn when he meets Sarah, a beautiful blind woman with whom he unexpectedly falls in love. “Thomas Murphy,” which is being co-produced by New York’s Flea Theater, will be performed on Saturday at 8 p.m.

In “The Impossibility of Now,” a comedy by a playwright known as Y York, Carl, a brilliant science writer, has suffered profound memory loss after a freak accident. The sudden change deflects his wife’s feelings about Carl toward a possible future with Anthony, a sexy pediatric dentist who is crazy about her. The reading will take place Saturday afternoon at 3.

The festival will conclude Sunday at 3 p.m. with “The Cocktail Party Effect,” Scooter Pietsch’s funny, biting look at three married couples celebrating their 10th New Year’s Eve together at a time when all their children have left for college. How will they handle being alone together from now on, without teenagers to complain about?

The festival was assembled by Scott Schwartz, Bay Street’s artistic director, and Will Pomerantz, the associate artistic director. Although the readings are free, tickets are required, as the programs sell out. Seats can be reserved at baystreet.org.