ABOUT BARE BONES
About the Bare Bones Theater Company
The onslaught of electronic media leads many to feel like live theater is “so last century”, but we think it’s more relevant than ever. In a world where people (especially those under 35) prefer tweets and text messages to conversation, the connection between an audience and actors on stage is fast becoming the last best hope for human contact. Real theater – words spoken with real meaning, not puffy songs and special effects – can communicate ideas and stimulate thought.
The Bare Bones Theater Company is committed to keeping that theatrical experience alive, and relevant. Our school for actors gives everyone – beginner or experienced – a chance to develop the ability to speak those “words with meaning”, and our performance schedule – including student showcases, one-act play festivals, and a production calendar that eschews the “easy sell” in favor of dramas and comedies that challenge our audience to think – makes that human connection available to our local community.
We are “Bare Bones” in name and philosophy: we focus on the power of the performance rather than the trappings of the stage. We present our work with minimal sets in a 70-seat box theater (a 19th-century dance hall, in fact), where the connection between actor and audience is nearly physical as well as emotional. Our work ranges from classic dramas (“View from the Bridge”, “Streetcar Named Desire”), contemporary and thought-provoking stories (“Brooklyn Boy”, “Six Degrees of Separation”), and thinking-man’s comedies (“Complete Works of William Shakespeare – Abridged”, and [coming soon] Woody Allen’s “Play It Again, Sam”).
While other Long Island theater companies aspire to “bring Broadway to Main Street”, our goal is to offer an “Off Broadway” experience that our community – and most especially the younger members of that community – desperately needs.
Jo Ann Katz
Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus
Board of Directors
Jeff Bennett, Jo Ann Katz, Stan Katz, Charlotte Koons, Frank Zinghini
In 1998, newly retired Jeff Bennett needed something to do. After catching up on some sleep and relaxation following 31 years of teaching and directing high school students, Jeff created what would eventually grow into the Bare Bones Theater Company.
Proving that you can take the teacher out of the school but not the school out of the teacher, Jeff formed an adult education course on the Fundamentals of Acting at the Laurel Avenue School in Northport, NY. The class was a popular success, so a few years later Jeff gathered his students and moved a few blocks west to the Posey School of Dance, right in the heart of Main Street, Northport. Soon, one class became two, two became three, and three became what is now the Bare Bones Theater Company.
As the group achieved success with its classes and open-to-the-public showcases, Jeff decided it was time for a full-fledged evening of one-act plays – “Zoo Story”, “Hotline”, and “The Actor’s Nightmare” – to be presented under the umbrella title Nightmares and Daymares. It was the company’s first formally staged production and it scored a resounding ‘thumbs up’. Audiences were taken with the unusual lineup of shows and believability of the actors’ performances, and as a result, the Bare Bones Theater Company was selected in 2005 to present Brooklyn Boy for the grand opening of the newly renovated Northport Theater.
In 2008, ten years after offering that first adult education course, Jeff introduced an innovative and exciting new initiative: The Bare Bones Repertory Company. Utilizing the same diverse and dynamic group of actors that called Bare Bones home, the Repertory Company produces a full season of plays each year and showcases a wide array of talent. Long Island theatergoers have flocked to the Posey School’s upstairs performance space to experience a unique assortment of plays, from American classics like A Streetcar Named Desire to side-splitting comedies like The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged!). With guest teachers, staged readings and special events like the annual film festival and the Hurricane Sandy relief benefit, the group has evolved from an eight student acting class in an adult ed catologue into one of Long Island’s most respected theater companies.
In this section we shine the spotlight on Bare Bones alums who are applying their craft in the world of professional entertainment. Email us to let us know what you are up to.
Christopher Hackert recently appeared as the Narrator in the highly acclaimed Bare Bones Production of The Pavilion by Craig Wright. The challenging role required Chris to portray nearly 20 characters, both male and female, in addition to serving as the all-powerful narrator who controlled the action, set the scene and related universal truths to the audience throughout the play. His performance and that of fellow cast members Jennifer Dorcic and Johnny Greenlaw were met with standing ovations at every show.
Chris is an alum of two Bare Bones classes, and he served as stage manager for the 2011 Alumni Showcase. A relative newcomer to the Bare Bones Family, Chris brings years of theater experience with him. Chris began his theater career as a contributing playwright with Middle Class American Productions. He has since had dozens of his one-act plays produced throughout Long Island. Chris was awarded “Funniest Play” at the 2010 Laugh Off Play Festival for his original play, the side-splitting comedy “Up The Creek.” He won Best Actor and Best Director awards at the 2011 Northport One Act Play Festival for his original play “Help Unwanted.” Chris is a regular writer and actor for both SeeSaw Comedy Group and The South Shore Theatre Experience.
Chris is proud to announce that his first full-length comedy “Til My Dying Day” will be staged in March, and he has submitted a one act play to Bare Bones for possible inclusion in an upcoming production. Chris can next be seen on stage in December as the disgruntled reindeer Cupid in The South Shore Theatre Experience’s production of “The Eight Reindeer Monologues” at the BACCA theatre in Lindenhurst.
Chris is the owner of East Meadow Florist in East Meadow and lives in North Babylon with his wife Joanne, a Speech Therapist. Chris is also an active community volunteer, having served as President of the both East Meadow Chamber of Commerce and the East Meadow Kiwanis Club, both of which he has been a member of for over 15 years. He recently served as emcee for the Chamber’s annual Culinary Delights Fundraiser, which raised over $20,000 for various charities.
Tom Rizzuto was born a month late in December 1979 (and has been late to everything ever since). This in-utero overexposure–along with drinking water we believe to be somehow altered by the local power plant–has produced in him the strange desire to make desirably strange movies.
It all started in high school where he and his longtime friend and fellow power-plant water drinker Dennis Neary started making short films together. Records suggest that he attended film school in his twenties in Buffalo, but all he remembers is a group of rowdy girls tearing apart a house and telling him and Dennis that they all played something called “rugby.”
Their first short film since graduation was Pants, which played at film festivals internationally (Canada counts!). He has gone on to make several other short films which are available for viewing at festivals around the country or on their website. His film, The Heist, was screened at the Bare Bones Film Festival this summer.
Tom has been an alumnus of Bare Bones Theater for years and recently enjoyed playing Count Yousekevitch to sold-out audiences in the hilarious play, Fools, by Neil Simon.
The Afterlife is his first feature length comedy-caper involving a large cast and a tiny crew. It features an all-Jewish heist gang, an international spy, intrigue in exotic locations, a kid’s training potty, the Canadian police, a TV psychologist and his dominatrix girlfriend, baking powder, a funeral, lost love and a heart that won’t let go, cigarettes, a ruthless Colombian revolutionary, and a fake mustache. It is the story of one man following his desire for adventure, no matter what gets in his way
Johnny Greenlaw has been a member of the Bare Bones Theater Company for over three years now, having acted in various showcases, and more recently serving as producer for the great American play True West by Sam Shepard.
A graduate of Hofstra University’s Film Program, Johnny is a native New Yorker living in Huntington Village. His latest film project, which he directed and produced, Finding Francis …The Summer of Cheech, an inspirational story about life, love and healing, gained acceptance into The New York City International Film Festival and screened to a packed house at the Tribeca Cinemas.
The Festival received thousands of submissions, selecting 300 films from around the world for screening, with only eight feature films being selected for Best Documentary.
Finding Francis…The Summer of Cheech took home the big prize, winning the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary. Johnny is passionate about everything he does and is looking forward to his next Bare Bones role coming this October, when he will play Peter in Craig Wright’s The Pavilion. Check Johnny out at www.johnnygreenlaw.com.
Will Mercado retired from the N.Y.P.D. in 2009 and wanted to get back into acting full time after taking a hiatus to get married and raise a family. He looked for a local class to get the rust out and wound up at the Bare Bone Repertory Theater in Jeff Bennett’s Fundamentals of Acting class. Jeff put him back into shape quickly. By the end of the year, Will was starring in the Bare Bones production of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. He has remained an active Bare Bones alumnus.
Since then, Will has had lead or supporting roles in over 10 independent films. Some have gone to DVD or have been picked up by International Film Festivals. He was recently cast in a regional commercial airing on NY1 and has a principal role in an upcoming NBC pilot, Notorious.
At the same time, Will is continuing to grow in his craft by taking the new Meisner Plus class at Bare Bones, taught by Jim Bonney (see the sign-up information elsewhere in this issue).
Will says, “Not only is the Bare Bones Repertory Company a great place to see a show or to get better at your craft, but it is like a second family.”
Jeff Bennett was a high school music and drama teacher for 31 years before founding the Bare Bones Theater Company in Northport, New York. In addition to staging over 100 productions throughout his career as a teacher and director, Jeff is the author of Secondary Stages: Revitalizing High School Theater, which details his successful method for creating a solid high school theater program. Jeff has taught a wide variety of students, from white collar businessmen with a casual interest in acting to teenagers and adults who have gone on to professional careers in theater, music, film and television.
Check out Jeff’s Book Secondary Stages.