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Corchaug Repertory Theatre highlights its local roots

Corchaug Repertory Theatre, a new theater company based on the North Fork, will debut its One-Act Series at North Fork Community Theatre this weekend.

The group was founded by Colin Palmer, a Riverhead resident and North Fork theater regular who wanted to bring something new to the local arts scene. Mr. Palmer has worked with local theater companies including North Fork Community Theatre and Northeast Stage, and is currently the artist-in-residence at the William Steeple Davis Studio in Orient.

“The idea is to allow an outlet for shows you couldn’t see at other theater groups,” Mr. Palmer said. “We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we’re allowing for a different outlet for actors who are interested in trying something that may be a little more experimental.”

Mr. Palmer said there’s a dearth of new works being produced locally.

“We’re giving these local playwrights the opportunity to see their work produced for the first time,” he said. “These plays need to be seen. People talk about learning Shakespeare in English class; it’s one thing to read the play and a completely different thing to actually hear the words said out loud.”

The One-Act Series, which will return with new plays in November and February, kicks off with three pieces — “Crisis at Christie’s Cafe” by Joseph Finora and directed by Bob Kaplan; “Over and Under the Vultures Wings,” written and directed by Nicholas Auletti; and “Voyage” by Jon Fraser and directed by Mark Heidemann.

Each of the plays is quite different from the others, Mr. Palmer said. “Voyage” is a romance, “Over and Under the Vultures Wings” is a family drama and “Crisis at Christie’s Cafe” is a comedy.

“It’s a real eclectic mix,” Mr. Palmer said.

“Voyage,” the only of the three plays that has been previously produced, has multiple East End connections. Mr. Fraser, who died in 2021, was the director of the Arts & Media Division at the former Long Island University Southampton campus, where Mr. Heidemann was his student. The play also features a song by local band Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks. Mr. Heidemann said he was excited to bring his mentor’s work to life onstage.

“I had never gotten to be in one of Jon’s own pieces,” said Mr. Heidemann. “So I reached out to his widower, Marco Pizzato, and he very graciously allowed me to bring [“Voyage”] to the stage … [the play] is like one giant local art production. You have an East End playwright, a North Fork director, a North Fork song and local actors.”

The idea of “local” is prominent in the concept of Corchaug Repertory Theatre, including the name.

“You can only name so many places ‘North Fork,’ ‘Peconic’ or ‘East End.’ Corchaug is a great name because it’s an actual name for the North Fork,” Mr. Palmer said, referring to the anglicized version of an ancient Algonquian name. “We’re trying to be a theater group that is a little more conscious of where we’re from and what local issues may be.”

See the Corchaug Repertory Theatre’s inaugural One-Act Series at North Fork Community Theatre (12700 Sound Ave., Mattituck) on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11 and 12, at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at corchaugrep.org.