The New York Musical Theatre Festival, an annual Manhattan event that fosters development of new theatrical work by emerging artists, gets closer to the East End this year with Karl Hinze and Becky Leigh Goldberg’s Hamptons-set 210 Amlent Avenue.
Hinze, a composer and PhD candidate at Stony Brook University and Goldberg, a teacher at both Stony Brook University and Suffolk Community College, have written a dark musical drama about family secrets, ambition and loss set against the backdrop of a Hamptons Fourth of July weekend. Dan’s Papers spoke with Hinze and Goldberg about the play, their East End connections and more.
Where did the idea for “210 Amlent Avenue” come from?
Hinze: I can’t answer this question fully without giving away the end of the play, but suffice to say, about six years ago I had an image in my head of a huge vacation house, and a certain event that would change the lives of everybody inside. I started slowly spiraling out from there, constructing over several years and the particular cast of characters that would inhabit this house and collide in all these interesting, funny, and challenging ways.
Goldberg: Karl pitched the idea to me in 2011, it was his baby, and he let me come in and help raise it.
Why the Hamptons?
Hinze: I have been fascinated by vacation locales, and what it would be like to live in one year-round as tourists come in and out. The Hamptons struck me as the perfect place for a story about the intersection of city dwellers and those outside of that hustle-and-bustle. I fell in love with the qualities that everyone talks about: the chance to escape the city, the beauty of the water and the light, and the opportunity to see New York people “differently.”
Goldberg: It’s one of those places that you can just get away. And there’s something exciting about writing a piece in which the place where people go to distract themselves from reality is the place where the characters all have to come to terms with the consequences of their decisions. There’s this moment at the end of the play, where the main character looks out at the sunset, and there’s something peaceful and freeing about that.
What are your connections to Long Island, and more specifically, the East End?
Hinze: I spent four years as a graduate student in music composition at Stony Brook University. Especially as a native Midwesterner, it was thrilling to be able to finish teaching my class, hop into the car and end up at a beautiful vineyard
for a wine tasting that afternoon.
Goldberg: I was raised on Long Island, and was a graduate of Ward Melville High School. As a child, I spent summers driving out to the East End beaches, and as an adult I love the beach, state parks, berry picking, and, of course, wine!
How much of a “character” does the Hamptons play in the story?
Hinze: A big one, I think! Ultimately ours is a story about family and how we rectify our pasts with the present, but everyone in the story has a particular relationship with the Hamptons. For some, it’s a luxurious escape, for others, a suburban trap; some people know it as their workplace, and others as just “home.” We reveal a lot about our characters by how they respond to the idea—and the realities—of the Hamptons.
Have you been to the Hamptons often, and if so, any favorite places?
Hinze: I have always loved getting to the East End of Long Island, but—you’re giving away my big secret, here—I have never actually been to the Hamptons proper.
Goldberg: I was there just last week with my husband. I love looking at the big beautiful houses, walking around Amagansett, and the beach in Wainscott. My husband and I just went there to find the house from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
210 Amlent Avenue will have a developmental reading on Saturday, July 19, at 1:30 p.m. at the Studio Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street, New York. For tickets and more information, go to 210amlentavenue.com.