Park Slope Playwright Explores the Mythical Side of Coney Island

By Nikhita Venugopal on March 13, 2013 8:21am 

BROOKLYN — When a teenager, born and raised in Brooklyn, decides to run away from home, he goes to the farthest place he can think of.

Coney Island.

"Wall, Ball, Summer & Fall (A Coney Island Adventure)" by Daniel John Kelly, is a play that follows the fabled story of Jeremy Stevens, a teenager from Brooklyn Heights who heads to the far side of the borough after his father loses his job.

While the play is a coming-of-age story for Jeremy, it is also a “love song to Brooklyn,” said Kelley, one that portrays the mythical side of Brooklyn through a “patchwork of different communities and experiences.”

Wall, Ball, Summer & Fall will be staged next week at Loewe Theater in Hunter College, directed by Alex Correia.

Kelley, a Brooklyn native himself, was born in Cobble Hill and now lives in Park Slope. In his first play about the borough, Kelley said wanted to capture the diversity of Brooklyn through its people and community.

During his adventures, Jeremy meets Moses Dirko, "the Mozart of handball" based on Coney Island’s own handball legend Joe Durso.

Through Dirko, Jeremy is “shown the mythical legend and legacy of handball,” said the 28-year-old playwright.

The story also follows Dirko’s love and skill for the sport, a theme that Kelley hoped to explore as a metaphor for passion – one that can build up hopes and, just as easily, break your heart.

But as Jeremy’s relationship grows, with both Dirko and handball, it serves as a part of his own journey. When Dirko plays handball against a single wall, the play’s backdrop, it lights up with splashes of color and now, Jeremy must “learn to paint the wall,” said Kelley.

While the play is not a realistic portrayal of Brooklyn, Kelley said he hoped to capture a wide spectrum of experiences that can exist in the borough, set against the eternal Coney Island.

“There really is something mythical about Coney Island,” he said.

"Wall, Ball, Summer & Fall (A Coney Island Adventure)" will be staged on March 18, 20 & 22 at 7.30 p.m., at Loewe Theater in Hunter College. Tickets are priced at $12 for general admission and $5 for seniors and students.

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