Port Jefferson staple, Theatre Three, wants to make it clear to Stony Brook students that they will have a friend nearby to help keep the arts alive, as the university faces deep cuts to its theatre arts and humanities programs.
Theatre Three, located in the main village of Port Jefferson, is a paid, non-union theater that hires both local and remote actors for its productions. From original one-act plays to Broadway hits, this theater seems to do it all.
Jeffrey Sanzel, executive artistic director of Theatre Three, said he and the rest of the faculty have open arms for Stony Brook University students, especially during this time when Stony Brook’s theater community is fighting to make a comeback.
“The arts are facing a difficult time; we have to fight for our place in the community,” Sanzel said.
Sanzel received his BFA from SUNY Purchase, has been involved with over 100 world premieres at Theatre Three and has made his living through the arts. As a man whose passion for theater paved his way through life, he is devastated by this recent program cut, which may block others from pursuing their passions as he did.
“They really are remarkable,” Sanzel said. “It’s a shame, and any cut to the arts is not a good thing.”
Sanzel personally worked with Pocket Theatre, one of Stony Brook’s student-run theater groups, and has collaborated with faculty and students from the school. Digby Baker-Porazinski, a rising sophomore and theater student at Stony Brook, has been heavily involved with Pocket Theatre since coming to Stony Brook.
“I was getting ready for the final production of ‘Most Lamentable,’ the Student New Works piece I helped out with in the winter, when someone forwarded me an email from an anonymous Stony Brook faculty member,” Baker-Porazinski said. “He said that the administration had begun talks to dismantle the Theatre Arts program at Stony Brook and had asked the faculty not to inform the students. He risked his career because he thought we had the right to know that our academic future was being tampered with behind our backs. Immediately, students took action, and by the time I got to the theater that night there were dozens of petitions circulating, seeking support for the department.”
An email sent by Dean Sacha Kopp, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, confirmed the finality of the cuts. In the email, he stated that “less than 100 students” would be affected by the theater cuts.
“This was particularly disheartening to me because it meant not only that the school was ignoring thousands of signatures we’d received from students of all callings who opposed the cuts, but that all demographics with under 100 students at Stony Brook were inconsequential to the administration,” Baker-Porazinski said. “I’m saddened to see another great university fall to the national trend of disregarding the humanities.”
Having graduated from a SUNY theater program himself, Sanzel empathizes with the students. He encourages any Stony Brook students to audition for the upcoming productions at Theatre Three, which can be found on the theater’s website.
“Theatre Three is supported by the community, and we support the community,” Sanzel said.