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'Men’s Lives' Revival Marries the Past With the Future

Original play by Joe Pintauro, based on a book inspired by the plight of East End baymen, revives the first production staged at Bay Street Theatre.

reached into its past to welcome its future with a revival of “Men’s Lives.”

“Men’s Lives,” written by Joe Pintauro based on a book by Peter Matthiessen, is the story of a fictitious fishing family on the East End on the cusp of change. Baymen by history and by livelihood, the family adapts as pollution, overfishing and community changes result in fewer fish to catch. When haul-seining is outlawed by the New York State government, their lives are changed forever.

“The issues the play dealt with in 1992 are just as pertinent today,” said Bay Street Theatre Artistic Director Murphy Davis. “The Baymen’s ability to count on their lifestyle and to continue fishing are not certain. Farming and fishing are still in jeopardy; the fish are still dwindling and their way of live diminishing.”

“Men’s Lives” had its premiere at Bay Street Theatre. It also launched the theater when it opened in July 1992, under founders Sybil Christopher, Emma Walton and Steve Hamilton, with Davis as the first producer and director of education.

The founding team wanted to open Bay Street with an original play that connected the theater to its new community, Davis said.

Hamilton and Walton approached Pintauro with a request for an original play, Davis said. The result was “Men’s Lives.”

Last year, when the Bay Street board of directors , they wanted their first production to be a special one. Mounting “Men’s Lives” as a revival seemed to fit the bill perfectly, Davis said. It also gives the theater a first — Bay Street has never produced a revival of its original plays, he said.

The only links between the first production and the revival are the play's past and the book. In essence, this production of "Men's Lives" is like a first time, Davis said, adding that special efforts were made to avoid referring to the original production as is typical for a revival.

“It was important to me that the play stand on its own and is not a replica of the original production,” Davis said. “There’s a new designer, new actors and a new director. This is a new production of the play.”

“Men’s Lives” is directed by Harris Yulin. He has extensive credits as an actor and director in film and theater. The cast includes Mark Coffin, Rob DiSario, Deborah Hedwall, Scott Thomas Hinson, Brian Hutchison, Peter McRobbie, Victor Slezak and Myles Stokowski.

Previews begin on July 3 with a “Pay What You Can” performance. Reduced
ticket prices for Hospitality Workers Nights will be held on July 4 and 5 with proof of employment. Performances continue through July 29.

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