‘Apron Strings Project’ comes to Vail-Leavitt Music Hall

From left:  Erin Elizabeth of Wading River, Jody Hampton of Manhattan, Deb Rothaug of Baiting Hollow, Joann Kobylenski Vollmer of New Hampshire, and Cate Clifford of Riverhead. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

From left: Erin Elizabeth of Wading River, Jody Hampton of Manhattan, Deb Rothaug of Baiting Hollow, Joann Kobylenski Vollmer of New Hampshire, and Cate Clifford of Riverhead. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Some are based on history; others are constructed from personal histories.

Some are fictionalized versions of histories and the rest are just pure fiction.

They are the 22 stories tied together in the “Apron Strings Project,” an original production by four East End women that was inspired by a collection of vintage aprons displayed in 2012 at Suffolk County Historical Society. The show runs this weekend, May 2-4, at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead — and many of those antique aprons will also appear on stage. 

A collaboration by playwright Debbie Slevin of Hampton Bays, WALK FM radio personality Cindy Clifford of Riverhead, Eastport social media specialist Megan Heckman and Suffolk Theater marketing director Diane Tucci of Riverhead, the “Apron Strings Project” explores the lives of the women who might have worn the historic accessories through a series of short scenes, monologues, poems and original songs submitted by writers near and far, some of whom also play roles in their own pieces.

“A lot of emotion was evoked by the aprons,” Ms. Clifford, co-host of the morning show on 97.5 FM, said over a platter of French fries last week at Star Confectionary in downtown Riverhead. “And we didn’t want it to skew too strongly over on the side of being really, emotionally …

“Gut-wrenching?” Ms. Slevin suggested.

“Gut-wrenching, yeah — because there is that,” Ms. Clifford continued. “We’re talking about people passing and we’re talking about missed opportunities and we’re talking about a lot of issues that were kind of the basis of the feminist movement, although not really. It’s not really a big feminist piece but it has to do with a lot of women and their struggles.”

Selected submissions include the following:

‘Reservations’ by Jeffrey Fischer-Smith

A long-married couple who has done everything the same way for years is one day propelled to step outside their box. It’s a touching story about relationships and dependency.

‘Vera’ by Debbie Slevin

Inspired by the formal-looking pattern of one of the featured aprons, this is the story of a woman trying to pay tribute to her dead mother, who had a need to be loved by the wrong people — and a passion for breaking dishes.

‘The Intervention’ by Alison Lowenstein

A mother and her older daughter become alarmed when the younger daughter “abandons feminism and forwarding herself as a human being in favor of domestication” to stay home with her children.

‘I Hate to Cook’ by Cindy Clifford

A married woman who resents having to whip up meals for her family every night pays a neighbor to do the job while she puts her feet up and reads a magazine. In exchange, the neighbor is able to buy several aprons she’s been coveting from a local shop.

‘Ada’s Apron’ by Melinda Iannuzzi

The daughter of a cotton grower in turn-of-the-century South Carolina has an opportunity to attend college. Bound by the social strictures of that era, however, she resigns herself to becoming a homemaker and continuing to wonder what might have been.

Other writers are Stephanie Griffin, Anna Katsavos, Liz Queler, Beverly Rivera Davis, Mackenzie Jahnke, Allie Costa, Bruce Clark, Andrea Rockower, Clete Galasso, Jill Siler, Zakeya Monique, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, Joann Vollmer, Esther Almazan, Richard Ballon, Sarah Williams and Jeff Slevin.

The ‘Apron Strings Project’

Performances will take place at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall (18 Peconic Ave., Riverhead) at 8 p.m. Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 4.

Tickets cost $20 and are available at the door or at apronstringsproject.com.

Proceeds benefit The Retreat, a domestic violence shelter in East Hampton.