The fantasy begins: High Tor on High Tor

High Tor on High Tor: The audience view. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

If you missed High Tor on High Tor on Saturday, check out the photos in this report and get yourself to High Tor State Park by 3 p.m. Sunday to see this great play for yourself!

Saturday was a perfect day for a picnic or a play — or both — in High Tor State Park in New City, N.Y.

Indian (Robert Fellows) sets the scene.

That’s exactly what nearly 150 people got the chance to do when they got to the park for a free reading of the play High Tor by Maxwell Anderson. If you missed Saturday’s performance, shame on you. But you have one more chance on Sunday.

High Tor is staged under the open sky on the slopes of the mountain whose name it took as its title. It’s a funny, charming play that really hits home about the environment and the question of what’s really important in life.

Judith (Michele Danna) and Van Van Dorn (Nolan Muna) are in love, but she can't accept his decidedly unmodern attitude toward life.

It’s comical and entertaining while dealing with these serious issues. And for anyone who knows the area, it feels authentic, with characters talking about local landscapes and history.

Hawks wheeled overhead as the play began.

This is the play that helped start a serious movement to by galvanizing neighbors and environmentalists to preserve the peak.  In 1943, after the death of Elmer Van Orden, who owned a huge hunk of High Tor, citizens groups raised the funds to purchase some of the land and turn it over to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission for preservation. Grassroots groups also persuaded millionaire railroad magnate Archer Huntington to donate his adjacent estate of 470 acres to the park commission to the park commission. Decades after High Tor became a state park , 78 acres were added to it as a result of litigation by West Branch to prevent development. These included the Van Orden farm, the actual site of the play.

The audience was relaxed.

West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland’s Land Trust, is producing the play to increase public awareness of the threats to open space and to the many artists who have lived and those who still live on and near South Mountain Road, and their work.

More photos and details about his production after the jump.

The Dutch ghosts arrive.

High Tor. Directed by Emily King. Final performance 3 p.m. Sunday. On the grounds of High Tor State Park, 417 South Mountain Road, New City, NY. Click here for directions. Totally free, including parking! Audience members can picnic in the park before the show.

High Tor is produced by West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland County’s Land Trust, through grants obtained by the offices of Assemblyman Kenneth P. Zebrowski and the late State Senator Thomas P. Morahan, and administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. An AEA staged reading.

Dutch ghost DeWitt (John Patrick Schutz) toys with quarryman Skimmerhorn (C. Richard Clark) and Judge Biggs (Eric Fisler).

The dopey robbers try to kill DeWitt.

Lise (Cristina Farruggia) and Van realize their love can't possibly work. After all, he's alive and she's dead.

Indian is full of surprises on his dying day.

Skimmerhorn Sr. (Robert Drake) and Van strike a deal.

Cast and crew at curtain call.

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