Can theatre save the world? The newest Long Island theater group thinks so.
With the sorely needed kinship that theater fosters in mind, the founders of Shtark Contrast recently ushered in a new community theatre in Woodmere. It will debut with J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls on August 13, six weeks after inception.
“Not just for the audience, but for the cast and crew,” says Jennifer Winkler, a local high school drama director. “Examining life in others’ skin is transformative for cast and crews who deploy skill sets toward emphasizing character drives and universal themes through creative slights of hand. Students develop empathy, confidence, and community.”
Hannah Mari, a senior at SUNY Purchase, stars as Sheila Birling in the play. She describes how theatre can help save the world, one performance at a time.
“Theater is rooted in connection, communication, and empathy — all traits that begin in our local communities,” she says. “In today’s political and cultural climate, where issues escalate to divisiveness, polarization, and alienation, An Inspector Calls reminds us that, for better or for worse, we are not alone.”
The plot centers on a bourgeois family celebrating the engagement of their daughter, when an inspector arrives with devastating news that may or may not change their lives. Set in 1912, but written with the cognizance of a post-War playwright, the play is dripping with eerie and timeless dramatic irony. The play’s producers found it an ideal debut performance.
Playwright Matthew Goldstein, an advisor to the theatre group, sums up the goal in Shtark Contrast’s mission statement.
“We’re dedicated to giving the Five Towns’ aspiring writers, actors, dramaturgi, and designers a place to reinvent the world,” he writes. “Shtark Contrast welcomes everybody — regardless of beliefs and background. In a world prioritizing efficiency over empathy, Shtark Contrast fosters our shared humanity. Some say theater is an escape. Shtark Contrast says it’s home.”
An Inspector Calls will debut at Rock Hall Museum, 199 Broadway, Lawrence 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Aug. 13. Text 516-476-9219 or email [email protected] for more information.