Bay Street Theatre’s 2014 Mainstage Season, the first season under new Artistic Director Scott Schwartz, will include the world premiere of Conviction by Carey Crim, a play that centers around a beloved husband, neighbor and teacher whose reputation is rocked by a student’s accusation that he behaved inappropriately.
Schwartz directs the new drama, which will have the distinction of co-premiering in California and Canada, and Crim can’t wait to see the response.
“The play is about a beloved teacher and his family and another couple and their son. The teacher is the ‘teacher of the year,’ the kind that we all remember, that inspired us in some way, and because of that he’s a bit of rule-breaker,” Crim explains. “He gets in trouble because of an accusation of sexual misconduct and it’s the fallout from that, especially among his family. It’s he-said-she-said; it’s an issue that’s been tackled before, but I wanted to focus on what the accusation does to his family.”
Originally an actress, Crim found her calling as a playwright by accident. “I was a theater major at Northwestern University, and [focused on being an] actor and was in Los Angeles for a while,” Crim says. “I did the rounds on a couple TV projects, and I was in London for a while at the Royal Court Theater. I came back [home to] Michigan on what was sort of supposed to be a pit stop at the Purple Rose Theatre Company.” Crim had begun to write her own audition monologues—“Even though you’re not supposed to do that! I made up the name of the plays and the writers and ended up getting better feedback on the monologues than the actual performances. I heard from a director, who wanted to find the monologue, and I came clean [that I created it] and he asked me if I’d ever write it, because he’d like to read it. I ended up sending it to Purple Rose Theatre for feedback, and they ended up producing it.”
The play, Growing Pretty, was a hit. Purple Rose Theatre Company, which often featured work by the iconic Lanford Wilson, became an artistic home base for Crim, who credits Wilson as one of her inspirations. “Lanford Wilson—probably unknowingly—became a mentor of mine. Just watching him work, before I even knew I wanted to be a writer, he would work right up until his plays premiered. And if he could be that way with his work, who am I not to look at my plays from every angle? But by the time I was writing in earnest, it was near the end of his life.”
Crim has been developing Conviction for some time. “It’s had more readings than any other play I’ve written or workshopped,” Crim says. “I have heard that a play can be lost in the workshop process. I really tried to be aware of that and use every workshop to deepen and sharpen what it already has. It has become what I was always going for; just getting to see it with different actors, you usually don’t get to see it until the rehearsal process. Realizing where the holes are… It’s very exciting.”
Now a New York resident, Crim is excited to work in the Hamptons. “I’ve lived in New York for so many years, and haven’t been to the Hamptons!” she laughs. Conviction is a co-production by Bay Street Theatre, the Rubicon Theatre in California, the Royal Manitoba Theatre of Canada and Dead Posh Productions in London, England. “It really is my first New York play,” Crim says. “I self-produced a play once, but this is my first full production here.” Crim is looking forward to collaborating with Schwartz. She enthuses, “I think Scott is going to do some wonderful things.”
To buy a 2014 Mainstage Season subscription to Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, call 631-725-9500. More information is available at baystreet.org.