Be a part of a very cool East End theater project

Cindy Clifford (from left), Diane Tucci, Debbie Slevin and Megan Heckman sharing a piece of apple crumble pie at the Riverhead Diner and Grill before ordering their breakfast Monday morning. (Barbaraellen Koch Photo)

Cindy Clifford (from left), Diane Tucci, Debbie Slevin and Megan Heckman sharing a piece of apple crumble pie at the Riverhead Diner and Grill before ordering their breakfast Monday morning. (Barbaraellen Koch Photo)

When East End playwright Debbie Slevin first laid eyes on an apron collection at a Suffolk County Historical Society exhibit, it provided an immediate inspiration.

Later, while talking through the idea she had with friends over breakfast at a local diner, a unique concept was born. Assemble a collection of short scenes, monologues and musical pieces about a collection of 21 old-fashioned aprons and the women who once wore them.

In a little over three months, “The Apron Strings Project” will come to the stage at the historic Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead. And you can be a part of the experience.

The four women behind the collaboration — Ms. Slevin of Hampton Bays, Megan Heckman of Eastport, and Cindy Clifford and Diane Tucci of Riverhead — will be collecting submissions from writers through Feb. 14. The production will be staged for three nights the weekend of May 2.

“We meet for breakfast ocassionally and Debbie had this great idea for a basis of some sort of a theatrical production, weaving them together to tell all the back stories,” Ms. Clifford said. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Vail-Leavitt and The Retreat, an East End non-profit helping victims of domestic violence.

“The Apron Strings Project” has already inspired dozens of submissions from local writers and performers and pieces sent in from as far as New Zealand and Seattle.

“It’s a far-reaching concept,” said Ms. Clifford, a radio personality who co-hosts the morning show on WALK 97.5 FM. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised. You do your best to throw things out into the world, but it doesn’t always catch on.”

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  | Aprons on display lasy month from the private collection of Diane Schwindt. This event inspired the Apron Strings Project.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Aprons on display lasy month from the private collection of Diane Schwindt. This event inspired the Apron Strings Project.

“The Apron Strings Project” has definitely stuck, and the submissions have been high quality, Ms. Clifford said.

While no final decisions have been made, interesting entries received so far include the tale of a woman casting her off her apron as she leaves her husband behind to start a new life; three siblings going through their mother’s things as she’s moving from her longtime home; and a housekeeper wearing an apron in what Ms. Clifford called a “slice of Downton Abbey.’”

“We absolutely are finding there’s a little of everything coming in,” she said of the variety of genres. “We’re getting women’s stories, men’s observations and interactions with women wearing aprons.”

Ms. Clifford said support from East End Arts, NYC Playwrights and the local media has helped the project reach a wide-ranging audience. Submissions from male writers is something the organizers said they could definitely still use more of.

To submit an entry, visit apronstringsproject.com, click the apron that inspires you and enter your piece. The winning submissions will  be announced March 14 and casting will take place a week later.

“It’s prompting a lot of inspiration,” Ms. Clifford said. “It’s very exciting.”

Some of the aprons used in the stories of the 'Apron Strings Project.'

Some of the aprons used in the stories of the ‘Apron Strings Project.’