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Bay Street Theater's Literature Live! To Bring Classic Works To Life For Students Across Long Island

Sydney A. Braat

Death of a Salesman Cast. (Photo: Michele Wilson)

Bay Street Theater will bring the power of the word from the page to the stage for Literature Live! this November. Using curriculum-based literature, the Sag Harbor-based theater and community cultural center creates a unique learning experience by bringing professional theater artists together to present first class productions. Each year, students have the chance to witness the characters from an exceptional play or novel come to life right before their eyes.

"We are thrilled to be able to offer Literature Live!, now in its ninth year," said Tracy Michell, Executive Director for Bay Street Theater. "With matched support from the community we are able to provide these classic pieces from American Literature to so many students, many of whom have never even experienced live theater before."

Literature Live! is designed specifically for middle and high school age students, their teachers, and administrators, but the productions are also open to the general public. Additionally, Bay Street Theater will present the play on weekends for family audiences and other types of groups including seniors, churches, and temples who may wish to attend. Groups from 1 to 299 people are encouraged to reserve a time slot by calling the Education Department at 631-725-0818.

With the help of the Century Arts Foundation and the Bay Street Board of Trustees, Bay Street will offer the Free Student Ticket Initiative for the fourth consecutive year. Student groups can attend a fully-staged professional production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman this fall at no cost. Since 2009, more than 56 schools across Long Island have participated in bringing students to Literature Live! productions. Bay Street is currently asking for contributions to continue to support this great educational cause. There is a $100,000 matching challenge grant and nearly half of the goal has been reached. Consider donating and every dollar you contribute will be matched dollar for dollar up to $100,000. By meeting the goal, over 3,000 students will once again be able to experience a fully-staged professional production! No amount is too small to give.

This year, Bay Street Theater will showcase Death of a Salesman, a 1949 play by Arthur Miller, which is considered to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th century. It has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award. Set in the late 1940s, Death of a Salesman follows Willy Loman, a failing salesman, and his family as they face the present state of their lives. Willy spirals into mental disarray and fails to achieve his own dreams which leads him to criticize his son, Biff, for not being successful in his own life. As Biff faces his own disappointments, he confronts the family on his father's unrealistic expectations. Ultimately, Miller explores themes surrounding the uncertainty of the American Dream and the struggles that families face in the middle of the wavering economy which is relevant for the 1940s and today.

"The Literature Live! program consistently showcases superb productions of often-taught classic works; it dovetails beautifully with high school English Language Arts curricula, allowing students to experience a work read in class in a different medium, to analyze and compare directorial and authorial choices, and to think critically about genre, point of view, character motivation, and how a work changes from page to stage," explained Tom House, English Teacher at Bridgehampton School. "The talk-backs with cast and director following student performances are an extra, enlightening treat. Literature Live! is a highlight of the year for students and faculty alike; we're so lucky to have Bay Street Theatre close by and generously committed to supporting the education of local students."

Death of a Salesman will run from Thursday, November 9 through Saturday, November 25. Tickets range from $20 to $55.

To make a donation to Literature Live!, visit baystreet.com.

Bay Street Theater is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. To purchase tickets, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

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