Joe Brondo has more than $6,000 in pledges on Kickstarter for the presentation of his original play at Guild Hall, but if he doesn’t reach his $7,000 goal by the January 8 deadline, his effort won’t receive any of the money.
Brondo, the assistant technical director of Guild Hall, has written a comedy titled Bluebirds that will be staged at the theater in East Hampton beginning in February. In order to cover the cost of costumes, set pieces, props and more details, he turned to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The play will be staged whether or not the Kickstarter campaign is successful, but Brondo says it won’t have the same “oomph” if it can’t get the funding.
With the funding, he says, “We’ll be able to put our best foot forward.”
The play is a about a computer repairman in the Hamptons who steals a valuable book from a client’s house, and plans to sell it for a big payday, Brondo explains. But when his wife finds out about his plans, she tries to stop him.
The book is a first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, autographed by L. Frank Baum with an inscription for President Teddy Roosevelt. While there is no evidence that Baum ever signed a book for Roosevelt, Brondo says he did his research and, based on the age of Roosevelt’s children when the book was published it is conceivable that Baum would have sent a copy to the White House.
Bluebirds is 75 minutes long, one act, and has just two characters. Brondo will play the male lead. The 32-year-old had been acting for 10 years, having appeared recently in Round Table Theatre Company’s MacBeth East Hampton and In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) in Bridgehampton. The female lead is played by Sophie Vanier, whom he met during an acting class led by Alec Baldwin at Ross School.
The play is the first thing he’s ever written, Brondo admits. “I wasn’t always the best student… This is almost making up for it—I worked my ass off.”
He wrote the original script between June and September, and presented a version for one performance for Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater Lab, a workshop for developing East End performing artists. Since then, he has been editing it from top to bottom.
“I’ve completely rewritten it,” he says. “I’ve gone through it with a fine-tooth comb. The female character is more likable—my character may be slightly less likable.” He also reworked a major plot point that didn’t go over as he wanted it to in September, so theatergoers who come back in February to see Bluebirds a second time will have a different experience.
“At the core, it’s the same,” he says of the rewritten play. He tightened it up, especially the first 15 minutes, which now have a lot more drive.
To entice patrons of the arts to make a pledge to the Bluebirds Kickstarter campaign, Brondo is offering a number of rewards. A $25 pledge gets a name in the program and a signed poster. For $50, backers get all that plus a signed script. A $100-level backer will also get admission to the opening night reception. A $500 pledge gets backers an associate producer credit and a handmade scarf by Brondo’s wife, Jennifer. For $1,000, he and Jennifer will come to a backer’s house and make dinner.
Guild Hall gave him the space to present the play, and he is doing all the sound design himself, which cuts down on the costs, Brondo says. Tickets will be $15, because he wants it to be accessible to everyone.
Bluebirds will be staged at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton, from February 20 to March 1 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Visit guildhall.org for tickets.
The Bluebirds Kickstarter deadline is Thursday, January 8, at 4:17 p.m.