By the Sea

Local writer's first play opens

By Dan Cabot - January 19, 2006

A play by Craig Stewart of Edgartown opened Jan. 18 at the Sargent Theatre in New York City and runs through Sunday, Jan. 22. Vineyarders know Mr. Stewart as a supervisor with Elder Services based at the hospital. Until last year he was the manager of the Meals-On-Wheels program. For the past week, he has been in New York attending to the birth of his first play.

"By the Sea: the Long Path of Summer Love" is set on Cape Cod during the summer of 2000, in the back yard of an old Victorian beach house. A medical doctor is in the middle of a divorce when a woman from his past, a beautiful socialite from Boston, returns to his life.

The play is produced by The American Theatre of Actors (ATA).

Founded in 1976, the ATA is a repertory theatre company whose purpose is to promote the development of new playwrights, directors, and actors. Over 800 new works have been presented, and more than 8,000 actors have worked at ATA, including Dennis Quaid, Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Dan Lauria, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin O'Connor, Kevin Spacey, William Fichtner and Edie Falco.

Mr. Stewart hopes that this exposure at ATA will lead to more opportunities and more productions in the future.

If practice makes perfect, the literary world will hear much more from Mr. Stewart. He has also written a second full-length play, a screenplay, and a collection of 30 short plays, and he is working on two other plays, another volume of short plays, and his first novel.

Mr. Stewart told The Times that he has upwards of 500 story outlines in different mediums waiting to be written. How does he keep all those ideas straight? He says outlining is key. "I drop what I'm doing when a story comes to me. They come quickly and disappear quickly. . . so I have to be quite organized with my notes and outlines. Otherwise, most of the time the stories vanish."

"By the Sea" continues at the ATA Sargent Theatre, 314 West 54th St., through Jan. 22 with performances at 8 pm, Saturday, Jan. 21, and a matinee at 3 pm, Sunday, Jan. 22. Tickets are $15.