For the Love of Ivy

We all know what late summer/early fall brings to Long Island theater: Herb Foster comedies, Broadway plays from two seasons ago and Annie. More power, then, to the tiny Ivy Lane Players, a community troupe who will mount a trio of one-acts at the Levittown Public Library for four weekend performances this month.

Virtually unknown even in Long Island circles, and currently putting the final touches on their first website——the company would seem to be some labor-of-love start-up. It’s a shock, then, when president Janine Sadowski notes that the group has been in existence for more than 50 years. Run on a minuscule budget, where the actors and directors are all volunteers, the Players present three shows a year at the Levittown Public Library under the condition that performances are free of charge—though an envelope is passed around for donations at the end of each show.

“We’re a unique type of group,” Sadowski says. “We’re not a not-for-profit, so the reason we can keep going is members’ yearly dues of $5 and small donations. That money pays for props and royalties, which can be very expensive. But everyone else works out of the goodness of their hearts. And we’re very fortunate that some of our members have a lot of experience with theater.”

Longtime Ivy Lane member and former treasurer Donald Deutsch echoes the sentiment. “On Long Island, you get people who were professionals, they’ve retired and now they do it just to keep doing it. It can be difficult to find male actors, especially since we have more theater groups out here than when I started, but we have a pretty loyal audience and a library that is very reluctant to censor. I remember I wanted to direct The Twilight of the Golds, which involves a gay son and bioengineering, and the [then] library director said, ‘Don, is this the show you want to do?’ I said yes and he said, ‘Okay, do it.’ And we did.”

Deutsch will be directing Sadowski’s award-winning short This Ain’t Little League in this month’s one-act lineup, which also includes A.R. Gurney’s The Problem, Gert Hofmann’s Our Man in Madras, Andrew Vachss’ Placebo and Sadowski staging her own piece, My Turn. “We also like to give a platform to new playwrights and actors,” Sadowski notes. “One criticism of Long Island community theater for actors is that they can’t get in. The same people are there all the time. We love first timers and highly encourage them to try out the theater experience.”

Game Playing
an evening of one-act plays runs Sept. 7, 8, 14 and 15
Levittown Public Library
1 Bluegrass Lane
(516) 731-5728 x. 240