Northeast Stage seeks help buying costly mics for Shakespeare in the Park

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Jere Jacobs, left, as Thelma Cates with Amie Sponza as Jessie Cates in a scene from ''night Mother.'

When reciting Shakespearean verse at the edge of the bay, it’s important to be heard above the roar of the wind.

The producers of Northeast Stage’s annual Shakespeare in the Park productions in Greenport have wrestled with that issue for years. The cost of renting wireless microphones for the actors makes up about one-third of the production’s annual budget, and with cash becoming tighter every year as grant money for the arts dwindles, Northeast Stage has just begun a capital campaign to buy their own microphones.

“We can’t do a performance in the park without microphones,” said Northeast Stage co-founder Amie Sponza, who, with Jere Jacob, will reprise this past winter’s two-woman production of “ ’night, Mother” this weekend as a benefit for the troupe’s “Let There Be Sound” campaign.

The performances, at Poquatuck Hall in Orient, are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 17. The shows will also benefit Poquatuck Hall’s renovation campaign. Tickets are $15.

Ms. Sponza said the theater troupe hopes to raise $20,000 for 16 microphones and equipment to run them. She concedes they may not be able to raise all the money in one year.

Actors in costume at the Memorial Day weekend tall ships extravaganza in Greenport raised $300 for the campaign through a 50/50 raffle. Southold Rotary has donated $500 and the group has received a $2,500 grant through the Huntington Arts Council from J.P. Morgan Chase to purchase two microphones.

Each microphone costs about $1,050, said Ms. Sponza.

Written by Marsha Norman, “ ’night, Mother” won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It’s the story of a mother and daughter’s evening together after the daughter, played by Ms. Sponza, reveals that she plans to commit suicide that night.

In addition to contributing toward the microphones, Ms. Sponza said the money raised by the performances will help convert Poquatuck Hall from oil to gas heat and complete kitchen and bathroom renovations.

Northeast Stage is also accepting private donations to the microphone campaign.

“If somebody wants to sponsor a mic, we’d be happy to have a banner or large acknowledgement on every program for every year we do the performance,” Ms. Sponza said of Shakespeare in the Park. Anyone interested in donating to the “Let there Be Sound” campaign can call her at 477-2972 or email [email protected].

This year’s Shakespeare in the Park production, to be staged August 3, 4 and 5 at 7 p.m., is titled “In the Company of Players.” The program, created and directed by A.D. Newcomer, is “a romp through the canon,” said Ms. Sponza.

“It’s a celebration of the actor, the audience, the creative process and the human spirit, as told through the language and characters of William Shakespeare and a company of players,” she said.

Ms. Newcomer has staged shorter incarnations of “In the Company of Players” throughout the North Fork recently. Each production has been different, depending on the talents of the actors involved, said Ms. Sponza.

“It’s a collaboration with the performers,” she said. “This is Shakespeare as you’ve never seen it before.”

And with a little help from the people of the North Fork, it will also be Shakespeare as you’ve never heard it before.

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