Tonight is the opening performance of Hampton Theatre Company’s The Lifespan of a Fact, marking the first of dozens of plays to be performed this year by the small regional theater company.
Adapted for the stage by Jeremy Kareken, David Murell and Gordon Farrell from the novel by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal, the play—which stars Laurie Atlas, James Baio and Matthew Conlon—grapples with truth, facts and the impact of each. But the truth at the core of HTC is that this nearly 40-year-old little community theater has endured far and beyond what its founders envisioned.
From what some may call humble beginnings, HTC originated as the brainchild from three Westhampton Beach residents back in 1984. “We are now compared favorably to a Broadway production,” says Quogue resident Andrew Botsford, a veteran member of the company.
For decades now, the regional theater troupe’s make-up has run the gamut of professional thespians, seasoned producers and directors, plus a slew of behind-the-scenes crew members churning out countless performances of both classic and contemporary plays during what many East Enders consider the off-season portion of the year.
“We started out as a community theater,” says Botsford, “and a lot of us had other jobs, jobs we were actually making our money at, but we quickly realized that among our group we had people with serious professional training.”
What’s unique about Hampton Theatre Company is they’re right in-between community theater and what’s known as Equity theater, where actors can pay dues and fees to be a member of an actor’s union.
Several local professional theaters strictly use Equity actors, like Bay Street Theater or Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. While, HTC does use some Equity members, they’re sure to hold open auditions for up to three roles in their productions to members of the East End community.
“We’re able to partially cast from the community,” Botsford says. “And a lot of our local community members have some serious theater chops.”
Operating from September through June each year at the Quogue Community Hall, the company’s produced about 60 plays over its nearly 40-year existence.
“We have such an intimate space we get to use,” he says of their beloved community hall. “It seats about 180 people max. It feels like you’re really in the room with the people on stage.”
According to Botsford, the community hall was originally built around 1920 so residents could watch showings of silent movies. “By the time it was finished, there were actual movie theaters,” he laughs.
The group’s first performances premiered out of Westhampton Beach Middle School in the early ’80s, with a production from locals of The Diary of Anne Frank. The theater troupe then moved into their present home over 35 years ago. During the summer months, the theater within the community hall is occupied by the Quogue Junior Theater Troupe.
“The village of Quogue was welcoming to us,” says Botsford.
For the rest of the month, The Lifespan of a Fact performances will be held Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. on Saturdays, with an afternoon showing on Sundays at 2:30. A talkback with the cast will be offered to ticketholders immediately following the Friday, March 27th, performance. On Saturday, April 1st, there’s a 2:30 p.m. performance as well as one at 8 p.m..
Tickets are $36 for adults, $31 for seniors and $20 for students. All performances are at the Quogue Community Hall located at 125 Jessup Avenue. Be sure to check out HTC’s final play of this year’s season, The Portuguese Kid, beginning May 25th. Call 631-653-8955 for tickets or buy them online by clicking here.