“Salt Water People” Play Reading Explores Baymen’s Lives

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Salt Water People

As part of the Waterfront Heroes exhibit, celebrating those who preserve New York’s maritime heritage, Long Island Traditions is proud to present a staged reading of “Salt Water People” by American Lore Theater at the Oyster Bay Historical Society on Nov. 3 at 2 p.m.

The play, by Jake Rosenberg, loosely based on Peter Matthiessen’s book, “Men’s Lives,” focuses on the plight of the Baymen of Long Island, and of the Bonackers, descendants of the oldest European settlers on Long Island, and their unique and rapidly fading American English dialect.

“Salt Water People spins the legend of the 12th Generation Bonacker Bayman Chris King, and his final fishing trip with his son, Danny.

When Chris, struggling with the pressures of losing his wife, his home, his boat, and his source of income catches a mystical creature from the depths of his past, he must choose which he’d rather lose: his son or his mind,” says the play’s creator, Jake Rosenberg.

To prepare for the Nov. 3 show, American Lore Theater members spent time learning from experienced local Baymen including Oyster Bay bayman Bill Fetzer, listening to archival recordings, and reading historical documents. The show will feature Trevor Jones, Thomas Hedlund, Juliana Sass, Allison Boenig, Ruthie Ofrasio, and Jac Bernhard.

The play reading is part of the Waterfront Heroes exhibit, on display at the Oyster Bay Historical Society until Nov. 3. Curated by Long Island Traditions, City Lore, and folklorists Naomi Sturm and Dan Ward, the exhibit celebrates unique folk artists and tradition bearers from Staten Island, New York City’s outer boroughs, and Long Island.

Admission to the event is free of charge. The Oyster Bay Historical Society is located at 20 Summit Street, Oyster Bay. For more information, visit: https://www.oysterbayhistorical.org/upcoming-events.html

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