Editorial: Will Shakespeare is rolling in his grave

08/09/2012 9:59 AM |

Picture this. You’re an actor on stage. You’re performing in Shakespeare in the Park.

You read Polonius’ famous line from Hamlet:

Oh, I am slain!

In the background, Gloria Gaynor blares through a DJ’s speakers, uttering an even more famous line:

Oh no, not I, I will survive!

That actually sounds like a funny play: Mel Brooks presents “Shakespeare in the Park Behind Studio 54.”

But that’s not what Northeast Stage was going for this Saturday night.

Instead, the local theater group was the victim of a double-booking by the Village of Greenport, which approved a permit for the annual Shakespeare in the Park event at Mitchell Park on the same three days it granted park access to the Long Island Power Squadron for that group’s annual Rendezvous event.

So while Polonius was dying quietly, Gloria was surviving loudly.

It was an unfortunate coincidence and an honest mistake. But it speaks to a larger problem with the way the Village of Greenport handles events at Mitchell Park.

Currently, the only policy the Village has regarding events at the park is the permit process outside agencies that want to use the park have to follow. And even when the permitting process is followed, as this weekend’s turn of events proves, the events aren’t always executed properly.

Village trustees Mary Bess Phillips and David Murray want to change that. They believe the Village should draft an event policy for Mitchell Park, one that sets specific criteria for the type of events that are permissible and that strengthens the organizational process for booking events.

This newspaper supports that effort.

It seems silly in some instances for the Village Board to say certain events are worthy of the park and others are not when no real guidelines exist to help the trustees reach their decision.

San Simeon by the Sound Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation was denied a permit to host its annual fundraiser in the park this year because of concerns that most of the public would not benefit from an expensive charity dinner. Sure, it’s fair to say that such an event shuts most of the community out of a public park. But absent a clear policy, how do you tell someone who’s hosted an event in your park before that they’re no longer welcome?

It’s long overdue that the Village of Greenport craft a policy for Mitchell Park. The plan should clearly state which events are allowed and create a process for how those events are scheduled.

This week’s mix-up might have made for a funny story, but the joke’s on Greenport.