Fourth of July Weekend: Here’s What to Do


Company is coming. The fridge and pantry are jam-packed. Kayaks are washed, paddles ready. A pile of beach towels has been purchased, along with extra flip flops. Now it’s time to have a schedule of activities at the ready to meet the needs of the young, the old and the in-between; the edgy, the laid-back and the hyperactive.

On Friday, July 1, a visit to the Green Thumb for last-minute produce will be followed by a stop at the Hampton Coffee Company on Montauk Highway in Water Mill for other weekend essentials. Here’s what’s cool about this place, besides the food and exceptional coffee—behind it is a gorgeous field and hidden garden. If you didn’t know any better, you just might think you were in the South of France. From 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday they’ll have the first of their weekly—and free—live music concerts. This is a family-friendly picnic scene and beach blankets are encouraged. The lineup includes Claude Imaz from Argentina, Bryan Downey from Liverpool, Sarah Hartman from Sag Harbor and Alyssa from Mattituck. [expand]

After an hour of music, we’re heading to La Fondita in Amagansett for chips, guacamole, and fish and steak tacos that we’ll eat at one of the backyard tables overlooking the pond. Casual, easy and delicious. Plus it’s fast enough that we’ll have time to head back to East Hampton for a special event. Those in my group who like experimental, entertaining and off-the-beaten path experiences will be impressed by my selection. Starting at 7 p.m. at the Mulford Farm on James Lane, East Hampton’s very own Neo-Political Cowgirls (who can resist with a name like that?) will present “Trojan Women Redux,” a wild re-imagining of Eurpides’ ancient tale and a powerful reinvention of dance theater.

I spoke with the company’s director, Kate Mueth, who said that because in the original version it didn’t turn out well for anybody, “we applied this story to our contemporary lives,” and the armies are seen as “beasts that represent any personal apocalypse—death of a loved one, financial ruin, addictions—and instead of remaining victims, we start the journey towards walking forward, imagining a different kind of future.” I’m all for that, especially when she added, “we roll around on the ground a lot, run around burning tons of calories and we get a little wild in the final parts, where we create a new future. We spin poi, an ancient New Zealand art form, beat drums, ride on swings, build an earthy Gaia puppet, and on and on.” Did I mention that the music is by the Scandinavian band Hedningarna? The wild ride with the Cowgirls will cost $15 and advanced tickets can be purchased at www.theatremania.com.

After the show, we may just stick around for Guild Hall Films at the Farm, an outdoor screening at Mulford Barn of Jaws at 8:30 p.m. (rain date 7/12). The blow-up screen on the lawn will make the shark as big as a house, but since we’ve just put on our armor and done battle thanks to the Trojan Women, we’ll be fine. Tickets cost $5. Kids under 5 free.

On Saturday, when that big sun shines bright, half my crew will be headed to the beach, and the other half want to go to the Amagansett Art Festival. How do I know this? I received a very imploring text, “we MUST go 2 Amag Rt Fest.” Still life painter David Oleski decided to stage an exhibition of art by individuals he describes as “modern visionaries” on the grounds of the American Legion on Saturday and Sunday, July 2 and 3, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Monday, July 4, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. His intent is to eschew the outside influences of corporate sponsorships and have an event staged for artists, by artists.

Oleski is looking forward to “animated dialogue” between the artists and the patrons: “The abstract expressionist landscape artist will be ready to tear up the contemporary still life painter,” he said, “and each artist will further define who and what they are.” For him, artists are “road warriors,” and this “is a chance to be a witness to history being made.” SOLD.

I’m then going to drive this crew over to Sag Harbor to the Eastville Community Historical Society at 139 Hampton Street to view its “Vintage and Commemorative Black Doll Exhibit.” Featured will be such dolls as the Flip Wilson/Geraldine doll, Willie Talk, Winchell’s Mahoney Lester, Michael Jackson, Venus and Serena Williams as well as dozens of others that span the generations and represent styles that depict the African-American and Caribbean experience. I also want to wish the society a happy 30th anniversary!

Two of my guests have already purchased their Sunday tickets for the Parrish Art Museum’s Opera in Cinema screening of Cosi Fan Tutte at 2 p.m. (parrishart.org). Here’s why they’ve planned to ditch the rest of us: “Because it’s Mozart, it’s the Royal Opera House in London, and it’s a hilarious story about girlfriend swapping. We’ll catch up with you for dinner.”

The rest of us are going to East Hampton Studios on 77 Industrial Road in Wainscott for “Cirque USA: The Electric Circuit” on Sunday, where we will electrify our imaginations with “aerial bartenders, aerial chiffon, electric dancers, a German wheel, spinning cube, acrobats, aerial performers, contortionist, hand balancers, power skips, hula hoop, electric jugglers, tramp wall, aerial lira, trapeze performers and more,” all accompanied by a DJ, and food and drink will be served. Here’s what I want to know: what are “aerial chiffon, German wheel, tramp wall, and aerial lira?” This and more will be revealed! There will be performances on Saturday, July 2 at 9 p.m. and Sunday, July 3 at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the evening shows and 2:30 p.m. for the afternoon. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased on www.cirquehamptons.com.

On Independence Day, it’s beach, barbecue and fireworks. We’re going to start the day, though, in Southampton for its annual Fourth of July parade at Railroad Plaza. All veterans are invited to ride and I’ll leave you with the theme of this year’s parade: “What is America to Me?”

P.S. If you still have guests on Wednesday, July 6 at 8 p.m., see story on page 88. If they’re still here on Thursday, July 7, or they’ve gone and you want to treat yourself, head over to Guild Hall in East Hampton at 8 p.m. When I heard that Zoe Wanamaker was starring in Chekhov’s Russian classic The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre in London, I was tempted to buy a ticket, purchase a red-eye flight out of Kennedy, see the show, then hightail it back to work. Luckily, Guild Hall has saved me the time and money. In the luxurious comfort of a seat in the John Drew Theatre, I can watch that grand dame of thespians perform LIVE in the role of Madame Ranavskaya direct from London.

Though meant to be a tragicomedy, most modern productions of the play have leaned toward its less buoyant themes. Financial ruin and panic are at the heart of the play, and so is inequality and hubris. It’s a story about the excesses of the very wealthy and the lack of access to opportunity for the lower classes. These are issues that crackle with relevance today. Chekhov has his fun, putting these words into the mouth of one of his characters: “You should not be in a theater watching a fictional life. You should be examining your own life.” As an audience, we laugh, understanding we’re in on and part of the joke.

Charles Spencer of The Telegraph said of this production that “it is wonderfully fresh, funny and deeply felt” and that Wanamaker “heart-wrenchingly captures the character’s mixture of reckless frivolity and sudden moments of piercing guilt and grief.” Tickets cost $18, $16 for members (cheaper than a plane ticket). [/expand]

 

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