Blyth Daylong, the Executive Director at the Performing Arts Center of Adelphi University, says that nowadays the younger crowds seem to be unfamiliar with what a live theater experience can offer. “I think most believe theater is wholly meant for the ‘fancy people.’ Some of these younger folks are even unsure as to when to clap during a performance. And we need to change that.”
With this in mind, Daylong and his team made it their task to bring together this unacquainted theater community. “There’s a moment when everyone needs to be around other people, when sitting at home in front of Netflix isn’t enough. We really want our theater to reinforce that sense of community. Because it’s something you can’t replicate in your living room.” By incorporating traditional methods like mailing out seasonal brochures and new ones, like utilizing social networking, Adelphi has been able to garner a sizeable local following.
This commitment to building a community stems from Daylong’s fond upbringing in Neenah, Wisconsin, a small, close-knit town just outside of Green Bay. During his middle school years, Blyth’s mother enrolled him in a local community theater summer workshop. “She signed me up for a month so she wouldn’t have to deal with me,” he laughs. “But during that summer it really clicked. From there I worked at a theater in junior high [and] high school and then off to University of North Carolina School of the Arts. It sort of took over my life. I loved what theater did for people, what narrative and performance could do for its community.”
As a newcomer to the New York performance art scene, after spending several years across the country working in film and theater production, Daylong is thrilled to be a quick train ride from Broadway’s vibrant theater community. Living outside of New York, Daylong explains, the rest of the theater world is always looking in on what the city is doing. “Although you need to be aware of what they’re up to, ultimately, it’s more important that you stayed focused on putting together a superb, diverse program that will not only enhance people’s education but it’ll be something they can all afford to come see.
“Having a neighborhood theater is our strength. It’s about community, about seeing the people you know and having a common bond with the other folks in the neighborhood. And we’re seeing more people each year come to our theater. We now have a mix of student productions and national acts, and I think this variety has really inspired the people to come out.”
It seems that Daylong and his crew’s passion to tie together their community will soon have everyone certain when to clap. Perhaps we can even expect a standing ovation?
Upcoming Performances at Adelphi
December 7—The Adelphi Jazz Ensemble
December 16—A Christmas Carol (a radio-style reading)
December 18-20—The Nutcracker live broadcasts from the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow