East Meadow Florist is Moonlighting

Someone who gives floral arrangements names like, “Out of the Woods,” “Bursting with Glee!” and “High Drama Roses” has an obvious theatrical streak. But for Christopher Hackert, true creativity begins after the doors to East Meadow Florist are locked for the night. That’s when he ceases to be a local merchant and morphs into a dramatist with a growing list of local credits.

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He’s a longstanding playwright in residence for the South Shore Theatre Experience, and his latest comedy, The Texas Palace Taco Incident, arrives there in June. “It’s very out there,” laughed artistic director Deborah Cascio Plezia, who will stage the show. “It’s a sci-fi farce that starts at home and literally ends up at the taco palace.”

Hackert’s last comedy, Walter’s Wish, played at SSTE as well as at Northport’s Bare Bones Theater Company. That piece told of a husband and father who, on his 39th birthday, wants nothing more than to make his family disappear. Then a genie appears.

“The play happened very serendipitously, as do most of my plays,” Hackert said. “I start by writing the name of a character and a line of dialogue. I answer with another name and another line. Then I keep writing to see if it goes anywhere. Not that Walter’s Wish was a ‘serious’ or ‘meaningful’ play, because I’m the least serious, most shallow person you might meet!”

He’s also one of the most committed. As SSTE’s playwright in residence, he writes one full-length show plus a one-act each year. Somehow, all this activity doesn’t conflict with Hackert’s sensible day job, which he has held for 35 years. “My older brother worked for the original family of East Meadow Florist. Then I got a job here and eventually bought it from the son when he was ready to give it up.” Hackert has owned the business for two decades and often spends seven days a week at the shop. Nevertheless, over the past two years, between South Shore and Bare Bones, he has starred in three plays and penned two original comedies and a one-act.

Asked how he finds the time for theater when he dwells amongst the thorns, Hackert, who has enjoyed writing since he was a child and readily admits his shows can be “a little silly or sitcom-y,” replied, “Even though I have to be here physically to answer the phones and take care of customers—since I own the place, when there’s downtime, I do whatever I want. Still, I tend to write better when I write under pressure and last-minute. So when I have false starts, I can pick them up and see if they mean anything or I’m always willing to throw them away and start anew.”