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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook alumni leave their creative mark on the Big Apple

The cast of “210 Amlent Avenue”, above, performing a scene when the characters come together to celebrate the Fourth of July in the Hamptons. PHOTO CREDIT: MICHAEL KUSHNER
Becky Goldberg and Karl Hinze have come a long way from spending hours in the Staller Center basement’s tiny practice room. July 9 marked the duo’s debut as playwrights and producers on a New York City stage, where they presented a play that was in the works since 2011, when the two were students here at Stony Brook University.

The musical, titled “210 Amlent Avenue,” is about dealing with grief. Set in the Hamptons in the summertime, the play explores a family coming to terms with the past.

“I guess all writers use writing as a way to escape their own lives,” Goldberg said. She said writing was a way for her to deal with loss in her life.

“The show would be really hard to get through if it didn’t have funny bits,” Goldberg said. “Humor is a part of how we cope and is a part of how we approach life. It made sense to me to try and balance the fact that this is a sad story we’re telling, but that people can laugh throughout it.”

The play focuses on a retired actress, Mrs. Jordan, who throws a get-together for friends to pay their respects for her recently deceased husband. Things take a turn when Judah, a friend of the family, shows up and begins seeking answers about his own dead parents.

Hinze also talked about how for a lot of people humor is a way to deal with grief, and for many is used as a way to deal with struggles.

“I’m really happy with having a show that makes you laugh, as well as asking you to think about things and it hopefully makes you feel something,” he said.

Hinze originally approached Goldberg about his play back in 2011 when he had the idea. He needed somebody to help him write and after reading one of Goldberg’s short stories, he knew that she was the partner for him. She wrote the play while he wrote the music and lyrics.

Fast forward four years, and the play has now taken on a whole new life. It went from an idea to a full-out production. The play was chosen by the New York Musical Theatre Festival’s Next Link Project, a program that gives those awarded the means necessary to turn their play into a production and the opportunity to show it on a New York City stage.

Samantha Saltzman is the director of the play, a Goldberg and Hinze said thanks to Saltzman’s help, they have able to make changes to the play that they would not have been able to do on their own.

“210 Amlent Avenue” will have five productions at the Pershing Square Signature Center in the city. Opening night was Thursday, July 9 and it will continue until Tuesday, July 14.

The two playwrights describe the experience of putting the production together as “wonderfully overwhelming.” Every little detail needed to be thought out, from minor adjustments to the script to who they will hire to do lighting. The two have so much to do to prepare, that they do not have much time for nerves, which they said is a good thing.

Hinze always had a passion for theatre. Growing up in Wisconsin, he decided to go to college in Massachusetts. Afterward, he realized that he wanted to be close to the city, so he decided on Stony Brook for his masters and now his PhD. He received a Master’s in Music Composition in 2010.

Goldberg grew up on Long Island and graduated from Ward Melville High School. After completing her undergraduate education in English from SUNY New Paltz, she came to Stony Brook and received a Master’s in Dramaturgy in 2011. She now teaches writing courses at Stony Brook and theatre courses at Suffolk County Community College.

She said she needs to remind herself sometimes that she is now a New York City playwright. When she realizes this, she realizes how big of a deal this is

“It also makes me really thankful that I have a writing partner who is encouraging, and who advocates for me and who challenged me artistically,” she said. “We never let each other stop at the bare minimum and we really push each other.”

The two say they are very thankful to Stony Brook for all that it has given them, even bringing the two together.

“I’ve been thinking back to that moment a lot in the last couple of weeks,” Goldberg recalled the moment when Hinze asked her to help him write the play. “That’s the moment when I got on this really crazy train ride and it makes me very thankful. It makes me thankful that I had the opportunity to write something and to write something that is being done”

When Hinze was asked how Stony Brook helped prepare him for all that he is doing now, he replied with, “Let me list the ways.” He said that the support received from the theatre department at Stony Brook is amazing and that he is very lucky that the school has been so encouraging.

Hinze spoke specifically of professors Daniel Weymouth and Peter Winkler, who have given him feedback and have been very encouraging of his work on the show.

“We would definitely not be where we are without that network of people that we had through Stony Brook,” Goldberg said.

The two remembered how in the play’s beginning stages, they would have readings at the Staller Center and the Tabler Arts Center using friends and faculty from the theatre department. They said that Stony Brook gave them a venue and a platform to execute this. They also said that everybody who has helped them along the way has been helpful in the plays production and has become some of their biggest fans.

“The community at Stony Brook has shaped this play in a very big way,” Hinze said.

They describe the festival as a very unique and exciting experience for them, as people in the theatre industry come from all over the country to see these productions, and the doors are all open right now for these two.

They would both love to see the play stay alive after the five shows are over, and they both agree that they will not put it to rest. The two share the belief that no project is ever really done.

Correction : July 13, 2015

An earlier version of this article had the misspelling of Becky Goldberg’s name. The previous version stated her name as Goldman instead of Goldberg.

Follow Krysten Massa on Twitter: @KryssyMassa.

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