Featured Artists

0 796
Criena House (Elmhurst)

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Criena House (Elmhurst)
Criena House (Elmhurst)

TitleOccupation
Actress/Dancer
website: crienahouse.com

Where were you born?
I was born in San Diego, California; but I spent a big chunk of my life in the Philippines.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
ELMHURST! I’ve been here for 4 years.

How did you get involved in theatre?
Through dance mainly. Got trained in ballet, gymnastics, my mother was a ballroom dancer. In college, as I was planning to be a journalist, I met an acting teacher from Julliard that exposed me to the world of theater. She gave me the courage to admit to myself that I really wanted to be an actress. So I traveled to NY to achieve it. (Or maybe deep down inside I just need attention, I don’t know… either of the two)

What do you love most about Queens?
It’s vibrant immigrant communities. I guess since I immigrated myself, it’s nice to see cultures from varied parts of the globe making Queens their home.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
There’s a park near me – Clement Clarke Moore Park, that is SO Queens. In the mornings, you’ll be greeted by falun dafa meditationers, kungfu masters, line dancers, and monks (yes, monks). At noon, you have an assortment of gamblers catching up with their buddies. After 3pm, shirtless teens from different parts of Queens compete in handball and basketball.  Around it are the smells of barbecue stands, taco trucks, and fried dumplings. Yup, that’s Queens.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Ihawan in Woodside for homestyle Filipino food
Museum of Moving Image in Astoria for film buffs and Queens Museum in Flushing for NY history
Looking at Tudor-style homes in Forest Hills Gardens (day dreaming)
For good eats, get off Elmhurst off the M or R train. So many options!

 

Current/Upcoming projects?
I’m in this show you’ll never expect to find off off Broadway called Red Flamboyant. It’s written by Don Nguyen (um I don’t know, one of the founders of Mission to Ditmars), directed by Laura Savia, and produced by Firebone Theatre. It’s one of those rare opportunities where my passions for acting and movement combine in one awesome show. It’s about the struggles of 4 women living with HIV/AIDS in modern day Vietnam compared to the epic battles of 2 female warriors in 40AD. It is quite exciting because I will be FLYING. How? Watch to find out. Showing now tillMay 16. Firebontheatre.com 

0 1992
Kim Wong (Woodside)

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Kim Wong (Woodside)
Kim Wong (Woodside)

TitleOccupation
Actor and Artistic Director of Accidental Shakespeare Company

Where were you born?
Sunnyvale, California

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Woodside for 8 months, but Astoria for 5 years before that.

How did you get involved in theatre?

My parents sent me to Shakespeare Camp when I was 8. I think they sent me there because they thought it would help me academically… boy did that backfire! I got hooked on theater and Shakespeare. We did a 20 minute production of Twelfth Night, and I got to play Viola — though whether that casting was due to natural talent or the fact that I had a terrible third grade bob cut is up to you.

Now, 20 years later, I’m running my own Shakespeare theater company out of Queens. Accidental Shakespeare Company is an ensemble dedicated to promoting PLAY and spontaneity in classical theater. Founded in 2011, we have become most well known for our Hit & Run Shakespeare series. We’ve produced 14 of Shakespeare’s works so far, and we are continuing to work our way through the cannon. What gratifies me the most about the work we do is that we often get audience members who hate Shakespeare, who think it’s boring, who rarely go to the theater, and they will come up to me after a show and say, “I loved that! I totally get it now!”

Please check us out at: www.accidental.nyc. And if you feel like supporting the arts in Queens and making Shakespeare accessible, consider donating at: http://igg.me/at/accidentalshakespeare

What do you love most about Queens?
It’s the perfect blend of city and residential. There’s a great energy, awesome restaurants, places open late, but there’s also a great sense of community and of coming home.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
I love riding the 7 train home, right around sunset, the moment it comes above ground and you can see the New York skyline lit up in gold and pink. When I’m feeling discouraged or the actor life is getting me down, it’s the perfect reminder of the fact that I’m living my dream in the city of my dreams.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?

The taco truck on 30th Ave. It’s the thing I miss most about living in Astoria. Take it from this Cali girl, they’re the best tacos in the city.

The Yoga Room in Astoria and LIC. They have the BEST teachers, and the studio is so tranquil — you’ll feel like you’re at the spa!

Leli’s Bakery on 30th Ave. Order anything. Order everything. You can’t go wrong.

Matsu Sushi (the friendliest service I’ve had in NY), Seva for Indian food, Sweet Afton, Queens Kickshaw… can you tell I like food?

Current/Upcoming projects?

The world premier of a new play, RED FLAMBOYANT, by fellow Queens resident Don Ngyuen, runs until May 16. I’m super excited about this show because not only has it been a great challenge to bring to life Don’s very complex and deep characters, but I’ve also learned how to fly through the air on an aerial bungee.

I still remember the first time I read the script. There’s a stage direction that says:

“Two women hover high above… The women fly onto the stage.

Yes, they fly.”

That tells you the kind of show you’re in for!!

But awesome theatricalities aside, I’m so honored to be a part of sharing this very, very important story. It is a story that needs to be told, that DESERVES to be told. The stigmatization of AIDS in Vietnam and the ignorance around the disease means that most HIV+ men, women, and children cannot get the treatment or help they deserve. Currently, the real Pham Thi Hue (who the play is based on) is looking after 50 children who have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS is Hai Phong. She wrote to us on opening night: “I hope the image of faithful, heroic and resourceful Vietnamese women will be recognized throughout the world.”

Red Flamboyant
April 24 – May 16
The Olmstead Salon
61 Gramercy Park North

Tickets: redflamboyant.brownpapertickets.com

This poignant, moving, imaginative piece blends realism and fantasy to tell the true story of Pham Thi Hue, the first woman to open an HIV/AIDS support group in Vietnam. Her story is interwoven with the folk tale of the Trung Sisters, two magical warrior women who lead an army against the invading Chinese. The staging combines aerial arts, martial arts, music, and shadow puppetry to support humorous, lyrical, and powerful dialogue. This is a story of true heroism, and what it means to be remembered.

*10% of all ticket sales will go to support the real live Mrs. Hue’s efforts in serving victims of HIV/AIDS in Vietnam*

See you at the theater!

0 1007
Jonathan Alexandratos (Astoria)

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Jonathan Alexandratos (Astoria)
Jonathan Alexandratos (Astoria)

TitleOccupation
Playwright

Where were you born?
Knoxville, TN

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I live in Astoria, and have been in that neighborhood for about three years.

How did you get involved in theatre?
In sixth grade, I wrote a spoof of *Star Trek: The Next Generation* that my friends and I filmed.  We created fly-bys of the Enterprise by attaching a hastily-built model to fishing wire and wooshing the contraption past a camera in a darkened bathroom, lighting the ship with a flashlight.  The Bridge was my living room, and we ignored questions of why birds were chirping by the “viewscreen” (a.k.a. my living room window).  We all wore socks in most of the interior scenes because my parents wouldn’t let us wear shoes in the house.  It was probably one of the best things I ever wrote.  We taped over my friend’s sister’s dance recital in making it.  That convinced me I probably shouldn’t film anything else, but I was hooked on the writing.  (And, Dear Friend’s Sister: sorry about the tape snafu…)

What do you love most about Queens?
I love that, when I take the 7 each day on my way to Queensborough Community College (where I teach English), I get to see Gemini Titan II and Mercury-Atlas D rockets out the south windows of the train.  Some days, usually days when it’s cold, I think of how I’d like to blast off in one of those suckers and see what’s out there.  Other days, I think of that *Star Trek* spoof, and how, like (hopefully!) my writing, my spaceships have also grown from plastic Crazy Glue blobs to something more real, more versatile.  But I mean, all metaphor aside: there are spaceships in Queens.  Actual spaceships.  More than the NASA ones, if you count those saucers that were in *Men in Black*.  I think we’re the only borough with spaceships.  I’d like to see Brooklyn compete with that.

I also want to add that I love the Secret Theatre, and I love that I get to do theatre there.  If the Secret Theatre were a rocket, they *wouldn’t* be the Titan, because those are now out of date.  They’d be one of those Ares rockets NASA is currently developing – new, mighty, and out of this world.  (See how I tied that back to the outer space stuff?  You didn’t think I could do that, did you?  Yeah.  I *earned* that MFA.)

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
The other day, I watched a *Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers* marathon.  I have the whole series on DVD and all the action figures to go with it, so I’m able to pick my favorite episodes and act out the coolest parts.  Technically, that could happen anywhere, but, because all my stuff is in Queens, it actually could’ve only happened in Astoria, realistically.  I don’t know.  I wish I could tell a funny story about Citi Field or something, but I can’t.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
The reason I knew I’d be at home in Queens – Astoria, specifically (and it’s not because of the Greek thing!) – is because I found a place that’s dead center in the Bermuda Triangle of a Best Buy, a Toys ‘R Us, and an amazing bar called DiWine.  If I’m not at work, chances are I’m at one of those three places.  And if I’m not there, there’s another place on Steinway called Toys & Variety.  The “Variety” basically means gloves and luggage, but I never really explore those options.  The guy who runs that place is a toy god, and he gets the best Marvel superhero action figures before anyone else.  That’s really all I ever wanted: to live in the center of toys and movies, with some booze to help me with the shock of living in the center of toys and movies.

Current/Upcoming projects?
I’m working on a comic book-y, action figure-y, animal allegory-y play called *Duck* with Mission to (dit)Mars, a group that I’m so grateful to be a part of.  I’ve also got an excerpt of my update of the Ancient Greek satyr play *The Cyclops* being read in June (June 2nd!) in Wide Eyed Productions’ *The Winks* series.  In addition, I’m putting together a collection of academic essays that analyze action figures as academic texts, and co-programming the Page 23 Literary Conference, which is an academic conference on comic books that is attached to Denver Comic Con.

0 924
Emily Herzlin
Emily Herzlin (Astoria)

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Emily Herzlin
Emily Herzlin

TitleOccupation
Writer, Meditation Teacher

Where were you born?
New York City. My mom likes to tell the story about when she went into labor and made my dad drive her into Manhattan (from Long Island) during a blizzard, just so that she could give birth to me at Beth Israel Hospital.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I’ve been living in Astoria since December 2013.

How did you get involved in mindfulness?
In high school I went through a difficult time–family illness, my own health issues, and you know, being in high school. My art teacher gave me a book about meditation and said he thought it would be helpful. So I tried it. It WAS helpful. It gave me a way to experience some stability within myself and the health of my body and mind, and it was a time of the day that was just for me. It felt like a way of caring for myself. It still feels that way, though now for me my meditation practice has become more about caring both for myself and for others. I study and practice at the Interdependence Project, and did their teacher training program as well as the training program at UMass Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

As a writer, I’ve gotten so much from my meditation practice: ways of working with self doubt, self criticism, and distraction; embodied writing–connecting with emotion in the body as a way of engaging with memory; ways of deepening writing through opening the senses; investigating my emotions and thoughts. I’m primarily a nonfiction writer and write a lot of personal essays, so having a deeper understanding of myself and how I’m engaging with the world benefits my writing.

What do you love most about Queens?
The people I’ve connected with in the neighborhood. I’ve made some great friends here. It’s a very creative and generous community.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
Sometimes when I just get of the subway and start walking down 30th Avenue, I’ll get kind of lost in thought. It’s the same street I always walk down, the stores are familiar so my attention wanders to planning dinner or the emails I need to write. Then I turn south onto my street, and suddenly there’s this expanse of sky opening above the apartment buildings. And as soon as I see that–the color of the sky, the shapes of clouds–the mental chatter settles down, and I just feel happy that I’m walking home.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
The Astoria Bookshop. Lexi has made that space so inviting and wonderful. I’m kind of in awe of her.

The Astoria First Presbyterian Church and Art House Astoria. Pastor Thia at Astoria First is a really inspiring person, and the church offers some beautiful community events. Art House Astoria puts on some great shows and artist salons, they get very creative with their programs.
The Noguchi Museum. My boyfriend Kris and I sort of started dating there. But don’t everyone go rushing there. Kris likes it because it’s quiet.  Astoria Coffee. I like their tea selection, and it’s a good place to get work done. But don’t everyone go rushing there. I like it because it’s quiet.

Current/Upcoming projects?
I organize Mindful Astoria, and we meet every Wednesday night somewhere in the neighborhood for guided meditation and discussion. On Saturday April 11th, I’m co-leading a daylong meditation retreat at Astoria First with my friend Paul Sireci. I also have several 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction courses starting in a few weeks. Writing-wise, I’m working on a travel memoir about my obsession with a 19th century Irish playwright, as well as a collection of personal essays. And probably a writing-related meditation event this summer with Mission to (dit)Mars, so stay tuned for that!

0 869
Kristopher Wettstein (Astoria)

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Kristopher Wettstein
Kristopher Wettstein

TitleOccupation
I’m a songwriter, composer, music director, pianist, teacher… I wear a  few hats!

Where were you born?
Calgary, Alberta in Canada.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I now live in Astoria off of the 30th ave stop. I lived up by Ditmars before that for about a year. I’ve lived in Queens for almost three years.

How did you get involved in theater?
I spent 5 years when I was a teenager living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and I got involved in theater while I was there because it was something fun that happened indoors, where the air conditioning was.

What do you love most about Queens?
I love the incredible diversity: people and culture from all parts of the globe. Also, a general lack of pretension. A supportive artistic community. It’s the most mixed, most interesting Borough.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
Probably biking under Roosevelt avenue. For the most part, Queens is really quiet and pleasant to listen to and I enjoy hearing all the different noises and languages as I get around on my bike. Roosevelt Ave is a different story, with the 7 train clattering around like an angry dragon overhead. But what could be more Queens than Roosevelt avenue! I’ll never be able to fully understand everything that goes on on that street. Such a dense mix of cultures and smells and total chaos. It’s like Queens distilled in a shot glass.
Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
I love the Isamu Noguchi Museum, it’s my favorite place in the city. His sculptures have this wonderful vibe to them, you’re not sure if they came from the ancient past or the distant future. I was there once yammering to my girlfriend about how I wished there was more music that had his sensibility, and she said “well, why don’t you write it?” So since then I’ve written a growing body of songs about specific sculptures on display there.
I also love Bahari’s restaurant on Broadway, they can do amazing things with just simple vegetables.
The COFFEED Inspired Word open mic is just a great, warm scene of Queens writers and musicians.
Current/Upcoming projects?
I’m pretty excited about a show I’m playing at Art House Astoria (23-35 Broadway, intersection of Broadway and Crescent St) on Saturday, March 21st at 7pm. I’ll be playing some new songs with an all-star band of Adrianna Matteo  on violin (she directs Face the Music, an amazing Queens-based youth orchestra/band), and Alex Lambert on drums. Then my friends Universal Thump will be playing some of their wonderfully imaginative pop songs from a new record they just made at Abbey Road (yes, THE Abbey Road!). Their lead singer and songwriter, Greta Gertler-Gold, also does some fabulous work in musical theater. Just $10 at the door. It will be fun, consider coming!

0 1124

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

TitleOccupation
Actor

Where were you born?
Saugus, Massachusetts (a small town in the North Shore of Boston)

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Astoria. I’ve lived here off and on for 12 years. I’ve been in my current apartment now for 2 1/2. I’ve lived all over the Burroughs….but I always come back to Queens.

How did you get involved in theater?
Hm. Well, I was a dancer and thought I’d be a choreographer one day. Truth be told, that wasn’t my dream. Dancing was just something I did well, like my Mom. She was a beautiful dancer. So I was 17 years old, and I was all set to go to Emerson College on a big dance scholarship, when I blew out my left knee in the middle of a performance. I had to undergo reconstructive knee surgery and I was looking at about a 2 year recovery time. I lost my dance scholarship, and my folks couldn’t afford to send me to Emerson without it, so I went to Salem State College and auditioned for their BFA program as an actor. I figured, “I can’t dance for 2 years, but I’d like to be on stage. So I’ll try this.” To make a long story short – I fell in love with acting when I was 18, and that was it.

What do you love most about Queens?
I love coming home at the end of the day from the loud ass City to a quiet neighborhood with lots of artists and families. There’s something really cozy about Queens. I haven’t found that feeling in any other neighborhood of New York.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
Every night I go to the deli on my corner and get a sandwich. And every night the owner (an old man in an apron) says, “You gotta work, right kid?! You gotta work to pay bills!” And every night I say, “I know! Thank God for work!”
So one night he asks me what I do for a living, and I say, “I’m on Broadway”.
There was this huge, awkward pause. And he blinked, about 10 times. Then finally he replied, “…the street?”  I laughed and said, “Yes. I work over on Broadway.”

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Taverna Kyclades (best seafood I’ve ever had in NY)
Astoria Bier and Cheese
Astoria Park (by the water underneath Hellsgate)
The Studio (outdoor bar great for watching football games)
The Beer Garden
Silvercup Studios
Current/Upcoming projects?
Shooting season 3 of Orange is the New Black, and getting ready to go into rehearsals for LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART at Second Stage.

0 820
Amy Witting

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Amy Witting

TitleOccupation
Playwright

Where were you born?
I was born in the beautiful and underrated state of New Jersey.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I’ve lived in Queens since 2008.  Started in Long Island City and have been in Sunnyside for the past four years.

How did you get involved in theater?
My family encouraged me to put my drama on the stage.  Ha.  Gratefully my parents enrolled me in a theatre group when I was in kindergarten after being cast as the Fat Cat in my preschool play.

What do you love most about Queens?
It’s home.  I lived in Brooklyn for many years with roommates, and when I looked to get a place of my own with decent space I could only afford Queens.  It was a hard move from Brooklyn but now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.  I have a nice community of friends in Sunnyside, and it really feels like a neighborhood where people have roots.  Of course, living off the Bliss stop in Sunnyside I’m always happy.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
Not sure if it’s an “only in Queens” moment but the first summer I lived in Sunnyside I went to the grocery store and came across a jazz festival underneath the big Sunnyside sign.  People were dancing, laughing, and the performers were really talented.  It was an eclectic group of folks listening to the music, dancing, and celebrating the life of Bix Beiderbecke.  I had no idea who Bix Beiderbecke was but every year I have made a point to sit and listen to the music.  It’s a real neighborhood event.  Also discovered that Bix was a jazz legend who lived around the corner from my current apartment in the 1920s.
Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
The wonderful thing about my neighborhood is that you can find so many different types of restaurants you’ll never get board.  Outside my neighborhood I love Gantry Park.  It’s one of my favorite places to just sit and watch the world go by.  They’ve recently expanded the boardwalk and you can have a picnic underneath the Pepsi Sign.
Current/Upcoming projects?
I’m pretty excited to workshop my play Day 392 at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC in August as part of NNPN’s MFA Playwrights’ Workshop.  I will also have a workshop production of Road Veins at TADA! in NYC this November thanks to the generous support of The Anne Freedman Grant.

0 704
A. Rey Pamatmat
A. Rey Pamatmat

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

 

A. Rey Pamatmat
A. Rey Pamatmat

TitleOccupation
Playwright and Co-Director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I live in Sunnyside as of September 2012. I lived in Jackson Heights from February 2006 – September 2011.

How did you get involved in theater?
My first real involvement in theater was with the Port Huron Community Theatre. I played Eeyore in The House at Pooh Corner. I had acted in a couple of Christmas shows in Catholic School prior to that, but it was playing Eeyore that got me really hooked on theatre.

What do you love most about Queens?
I LOVE TO EAT. So the many food adventures in Queens are probably what I love the most.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
I don’t have any “only in Queens” moments, but I love walking down blocks and seeing those buildings where there’s a Latin American lawyer’s office under a Filipino martial arts studio next door to a Turkish restaurant. It always blows my mind wide open.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
SweetLeaf LIC for coffee. Taqueria Coatzingo in Jackson Heights for Mexican, although vegans won’t want to miss out on vegan mole at De Mole in Sunnyside. Sripraphai forever for Thai food. Joju’s in Elmhurst only has so-so banh mi, but they do have an amazing invention called loaded kimchi fries (get it with the fried egg). If you’re a lazy Filipino vegetarian who doesn’t feel like cooking, Payag in Woodside is pretty much the only Filipino resto that will accommodate your veggie-ness. Zenon Taverna is my go-to for Astoria Greek food. Hop the N/Q further into Astoria and go to Martha’s Country Bakery for pie and cheesecake when your done. And, finally, the Xi’an Famous Foods in Flushing is WAY better than the one in the East Village if you don’t mind navigating through a sketchy underground food court.
Current/Upcoming projects?
The Mysteries, including my short play Something in the Water, is currently playing at The Flea until July 14. A presentation of A Power Play; Or, What’s-its-name will be at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference July 16 and 17We Have Cookies will be produced at the Yale Summer Cabaret August 14 – 17 as part of their Summer Shorts. My short play Some Other Kid is being presented throughout the U.S. as part of The New Black Fest’s Facing Our Truth: 10-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race, and Privilege. And, finally, after all the terrible things I do will premiere at Milwaukee Rep in October 2014 before heading to Boston’s Huntington Theatre in spring 2015.
For more information on Rey, check out http://www.areypamatmat.com

0 695
Kevin Christopher Snipes
Kevin Christopher Snipes

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Kevin Christopher Snipes
Kevin Christopher Snipes

TitleOccupation
Playwright

Where were you born?
Plantation, Florida. I’m Swamp Trash.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I live right on the border of Woodside & Sunnyside. Technically my address is Woodside but I tell people Sunnyside because, frankly, I have yet to learn the consequences of lying.

How did you get involved in theater?
I grew up in Central Florida where we had a pretty amazing regional theater called Seaside Music Theater. One of the first shows I remember seeing at SMT was Marsha Norman & Lucy Simon’s The Secret Garden, and it kind of changed my life. It was the first time I remember being completely transported to another world and being deeply affected by the power of theater. After that I started seeing theater regularly. I joined my school’s drama club. I started acting. I wrote plays. I stopped acting. I kept writing plays. And now here I am. (Incidentally, my childhood infatuation with theater via The Secret Garden has actually been turned into theater. Former Sunnyside playwright/composer Matt Schatz used my “theater awakening” story as inspiration for a song in his musical LOVE TRAPEZOID. The song is called, appropriately enough, “The Secret Garden.”)

What do you love most about Queens?
I like that Queens keeps surprising me. I’ve lived here almost a decade and yet every year I discover something new to love about it. Some hidden gem of a restaurant. A museum. A park. Queens doesn’t really advertise itself so it’s up to you to find out what it has to offer. I like that it makes me put in the effort.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
April 22nd was the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair in Queens.  To mark the occasion, the city briefly re-opened the long-neglected but still standing New York Pavilion. More than 6,000 people stood in line for (sometimes) more than five hours for the chance to go inside the historic structure for five minutes. Including me. That is some hardcore Queens love.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
In my opinion there is no greater restaurant in all of Queens that De Mole. It’s the most delicious, least expensive Mexican food I have ever had. They even make an insanely good cheeseburger.  If you like tapas (and who doesn’t like tapas?), the chefs at Salt & Fat are endlessly inventive. I just had a dessert there that consisted of beet sorbet, chocolate “dirt,” and mint sprigs. It was so quirky and delicious I couldn’t stop smiling.  The Queens Museum and Unisphere are amazing. They’re located in Flushing Meadows (the former site of the 1964 World’s Fair) and you could spend a whole day walking the grounds.
Current/Upcoming projects?
In June I’ll be heading up to the Berkshires for the Berkshires Playwrights Lab’s 7th Annual Gala. My one-act THE AGE OF IRON will be part of an evening of short plays that are being staged to help raise money for BPL.

0 624

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

JulieCongress
Julie Congress

TitleOccupation
Co-Artistic Director, No.11 Productions/Actor

Where were you born?
Alexandria, Virginia

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I’ve lived in Astoria for over 4 years now! I’ve spent the last 2 years off of the Ditmars stop. And my first apartment in the city was by Steinway, next to the dearly departed Time Cafe, off of what was then the V train. 

How did you get involved in theater?
In 4th grade, I was in a class production of Oedipus (we had a very progressive teacher!) – I played the Oracle of Delphi and made a lot of crazy gargling sounds and have been hooked ever since. I majored in theatre at Skidmore College (with a stint abroad at the Moscow Art Theatre) and loved the ensemble-based approach. Immediately upon graduating from Skidmore, I co-founded No.11 Productions, a non-profit theater company dedicated to creating, developing and touring theatre as an ensemble (www.no11productions). As of this June, we will be at it 6 years and counting!

What do you love most about Queens?
I love living off of an elevated train line! 

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
When I was preparing to move to NYC, my roommate-to-be asked me where we should look for an apartment. Without hesitation, I declared “Astoria”. I had never been to Astoria (or to Queens for that matter), but I just knew that this was the place for me!

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
There are some really neat little bars near my house (Mosaic, Crescent & Vine) and I love wandering through Astoria Park. Oh and Materials for the Arts!

 

Current/Upcoming projects?
We are remounting our original play-with-music Coosje this summer. In this whimsical love story, inspired by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, two sculptors learn to collaborate in life and art. Meanwhile, a pear falls out of a fruit bowl, gains consciousness and travels the world. We’ll be bringing Coosje up to Saratoga Springs this June and then heading to DC for the Capital Fringe in July.