On Saturday, May 1, Stage East and Indivisible Washington County celebrated the life of Jay Skriletz through a staged reading of his play, Houdini’s Secret. The event was part memorial and part fundraiser for the new Jay Skriletz Scholarship Fund, which will support youth and young adults interested in theater. With more than 20 attendees and $3,500 dollars raised, the event was felt to be a great success by members of Jay’s family and both organizations.

Skriletz was an integral part of Stage East, especially during its early years, and a member of the steering committee for Indivisible Washington County. His membership in both organizations reflected his love of theatre and his passion for social justice. Houdini’s Secret combined these facets and was thus an apt arena for family, friends, and peers to memorialize him.   

The trio of actors, Anna Baskerville, Kathleen Dunbar, and Brian Schuth, all fully vaccinated, were able to work in person on the script, marking the first such opportunity in over a year. “I’m so glad we were able to have the actors all together. It makes a palpable difference,” noted the reading’s director, Mark Macey. 
“The experience of doing a reading via Zoom was a first for this twenty year veteran of Stage East theater,” said Anna Baskerville. “There was an audience.  We couldn’t see or hear them,  but we felt them.”  

Anna Baskerville (from left), Brian Schuth, and Kathleen Dunbar rehearse for a reading of Houdini’s Secret by Jay Skriletz. Director Mark Macey’s monitor, showing the castmates’ work via Zoom, is shown.

While the actors lent their talents on the EAC stage, their performance was broadcast online via Zoom for audiences near and far. Bernie Cecire, the production’s technical director, rigged an iPad to an easel and ran mics from the stage to make sure the actors were well framed and easily heard. He also designed and ran the lights and sound for the reading. 

“It was a privilege to be involved in this production as a way to honor Jay and also kick off the scholarship fund,” noted Dunbar. “We had a fantastic cast and crew and the play itself was thought provoking, full of mystery, and sentimental all at the same time.” 

Stage East is a constituent group of Eastport Arts Center; more information may be found at <<https://eastportartscenter.org/constituent-groups/stage-east>>. To donate or learn more about the memorial scholarship fund, please visit <<www.jayskriletzscholarshipfund.org>>.