Thursday, May 7, 2009

'On the Waterfront' comes to the waterfront

“Edie Doyle” and “Terry Malloy,” the roles made famous by Marlon Brando and Eva-Marie Saint, interact on the waterfront

By Meredith Deliso

(Published in the 5.7 issue of 24/Seven)

Budd Schulber’s classic play “On the Waterfront” returns to the spot that inspired it, when Brooklyn’s Brave New World Repertory Theatre puts on a staged reading literally on the waterfront aboard the historic Waterfront Museum Barge in Red Hook.

The May 16 and 17 readings culminate the company’s sixth annual Salon Series, which featured the work of prominent Brooklyn playwrights, including Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” at various Brooklyn locations, ranging from the Old Stone House in Park Slope to Fort Greene’s BRICstudio.

As with “The Crucible,” which took advantage of the outdoor setting for the production, BNW wanted to be site-specific with “One the Waterfront” and bring the reading to life in the fitting environment.

“We specifically wanted to do ‘On the Waterfront’ at the Waterfront Museum,” said Brave New World Artistic Director Claire Beckman, who runs the theater with her husband, John Morgan, and directs “On the Waterfront” with Timothy Smith. “I went to David Sharp at the Museum and asked him about it, and it turned out he was friends with the writer.”

The writer, Budd Schulber, who currently lives on Long Island, will be on hand at the (sold-out) May 16 performance for a talk-back, as were other playwrights involved in the Salon Series (with the exception of Arthur Miller, though we can’t really hold that against him).

His play was based on a Pulizter Prize-winning series of articles that ran in the New York Sun by Malcolm Johnson, detailing the widespread corruption, extortion and racketeering of the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts, and immortalized by the 1954 film starring Marlon Brando.

BNW’s own production will be a bit more bare-boned, with the readings staged and the actors dressed to the part, though aided by the appearance of scripts.

“You forget about the scripts, they just disappear,” says Beckman. “A lot of people in the audience enjoy the scripts – you feel like you’re part of the process. Since it’s a Salon Series featuring notable Brooklyn playwrights, it’s nice to remind the audience constantly that this was written by somebody.”

From the Brooklyn waterfront, the production will move with the barge as it travels the Hudson, marking he 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s own voyage up the river, to Manhattan’s West Side, with a reading on May 22 at Hudson River Park, and moving on to, appropriately, Hoboken, NJ, where the story is set, on May 29.

“This production would not be possible without David’s magnificent barge, enthusiasm for our work, and total cooperation,” said Beckman. “We are indebted to him and honored to be working with him.

Though this does mark the first time BNW voyages out of Manhattan, the company is still very much a Brooklyn-centric one.

“Really the point is to stay here and do theater in Brooklyn. That’s really what we are all about,” said Beckman. “We want people to hear them read by wonderful professional actors who live in your own borough who tend to generally work over the bridge and beyond. We are just as tired of traveling over the bridge to do a play as the audience is of traveling over the bridge to see a play. The idea was to skip the bridge all together and do it right here where we live and keep it local.”

Brave New World Repertory Theatre’s Salon Series culminates with“On the Waterfront” on May 16 (sold out) and 17, with lunch at 1:30 p.m. and the stage reading at 2 p.m., aboard the Waterfront Barge Museum (290 Conover St.).

The production on the Waterfront Barge Museum will then travel to Hudson River Park (Pier 84 at 44th St.) in Manhattan on May 22 and to NJ Transit’s Erie Lackawanna Plaza in Hoboken on May 29, with complimentary wine and cheese at 7:30 p.m. and the reading at 8 p.m. for both performances.

Tickets are $18 each. Reservations can be made by calling 917-285-8911 or by e-mailing


Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP