More historical figures will rise from the beyond for North Fork Community Theatre’s newest incarnation of its graveyard tour.
Each fall, NFCT joins forces with Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society and Mattituck Presbyterian Church to guide attendees on tours of the historic graveyard that lies between the church and theater on Old Sound Avenue in Mattituck. The Halloween-worthy experience offers audience members a unique look at local history and gives area performers another outlet in addition to the theater’s plays and musicals.
“It’s really popular … it sells out every year,” NFCT president Mary Motto Kalich said. “For a community organization, like the theater, we have two goals: One is to put on content for patrons to come see, [and the other] is to develop a community and give opportunities for people to perform.”
This year, for the first time, the theater has partnered with Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council to guide guests through the Old Burying Ground in Cutchogue Saturday, Sept. 30, one week before the Mattituck tour on Oct. 7.
“We have an amazing history out here on the North Fork, and a lot of these historical societies are becoming more active and want to try to tell all about the stories of the people from times gone by, and we’re helping out with that,” Ms. Kalich said. “Part of being a theater and being a nonprofit is it’s really exciting to be partnering with other nonprofit organizations, connecting the community … It just builds up everybody here on the North Fork.”
Just like the annual Mattituck experience, “widow guides” draped in Victorian mourning costumes will guide guests through the burial ground, where they will encounter costumed actors who will recount the lives of notable figures in Cutchogue’s history from atop their graves.
“The historical research is done, and then it’s conveyed into a script,” said Mark MacNish, the executive director of the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council. “I work with the costumer to make sure the costumes are historically accurate.”
The Cutchogue deceased who will “rise” to share their stories include two former enslaved people, a schoolteacher and a veteran of the French and Indian War.
“A lot of the older graveyards on Long Island tell of Revolutionary War heroes, but the Cutchogue burying ground has war heroes that predate the revolution and were part of the French Indian War/Seven Years War that kind of laid the groundwork for the Revolutionary War,” Mr. MacNish said. “A lot of people aren’t aware there were two [local] companies the English sent because we were under English rule at the time. These soldiers were fighting for England, there were no patriots at that time. Two companies from the North Fork were sent to the Allegheny area in Pennsylvania to fight for the English against the Indians and the French.”
The Old Cutchogue Burying Ground tour will take place Saturday, Sept. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. and run in 10-minute intervals for groups of up to 20 guests. Tickets are available for $25 through nfct.com or by calling 631-298-6328. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets are also on sale for the Mattituck Presbyterian Church Old Burying Ground tour on Saturday, Oct. 7, and can be purchased through brownpapertickets.com.