Alex Dmitriev has a tricky task ahead of him — the city-based director and his cast are performing an Arthur Miller play aboard the Waterfront Barge Museum in Red Hook.
The barge, which gives the crew about 27 feet to work with, will become the backdrop of the tragic Brooklyn-centric play “A View From the Bridge.”
Because of the barge’s layout, the audience will sit about a foot or two from the actors as they spring from one side to the other. One half of the “stage” will be a family apartment and the other will be the street, an office and a jail, Dmitriev told amNewYork.
Dmitriev has directed several Arthur Miller plays, but this one is quite different.
“In the middle of that there is a beam that holds the roof up, so we’re constantly worried about sight lines and the movement of the characters in the space and that it doesn’t block somebody,” he said. “But it’s very open and flowing. There are no doors and there will be movement with light and actors who will be moving in and out of the space.”
Actually set in Red Hook, the play, which Miller likened to a Greek tragedy, calls back to both Brooklyn’s past and our present.
Miller, perhaps best known for his play “Death of a Salesman,” died in 2005.
Set in the 1950s, the play features Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman who lives in Red Hook with his wife, Beatrice, and their orphaned niece, Catherine. When Beatrice’s relatives arrive from Italy to work on the docks, Eddie gets an attitude.
Without revealing too much, “Eddie is a flawed Everyman like most of Miller’s leading men,” according to a statement Claire Beckman, the show’s producing artistic director and co-founder of Brave New World Repertory Theatre. “But he is also xenophobic, homophobic, patriarchal, white and working class. He does his fair share of ‘mansplaining’ while he struggles with inappropriate feelings for his 17-year-old niece. He checks every box for the tragically flawed American male in 2018.”
The play is “jam-packed” full of issues and isn’t about a single concept, Dmitriev added.
From start to finish, the audience will watch Eddie “take steps that lead him to his destiny,” Dmitriev added. “They take him to a place he never would have imagined — that is the tragedy.”
And since the audience will be closer than ever, they’ll likely be even more sucked into the story than they might be in a regular theater setting.
The intimacy of it, or a detail they notice up close, could pull them in and won’t let them go — it’s a more focused experience, Dmitriev said.
Plus, performing in the neighborhood it’s set in makes it all the more real. Some of the street names mentioned in “A View From the Bridge” are still around.
Miller formed the idea for the play from a story he heard from the Red Hook docks, too.
“It’s a great story, and it’s so well-written,” Dmitriev said. “Hopefully we will entertain you, make you cry and walk away with the sense of having a ‘full meal.’”
Brave New World Repertory Theatre, which is putting on the show, has done numerous performances in unconventional places, including on the porches of Victorian homes in Flatbush for “To Kill A Mockingbird” in 2005.
“A View From the Bridge” will run from May 31 to June 24 at 8 p.m. daily at the barge (290 Conover St.) Tickets are $25.