Featured Artist: Scott Casper

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.

Scott Casper
Scott Casper

Title\Occupation
Artistic Director, taxdeductible theatre; Writer, #hero

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I’ve lived in Astoria since 2003, it will be ten years come August!  Where does the time go?

How did you get involved in theater?
 When I was a kid, I went to a small Jewish Day School from K-4th grade.  There were only about 60 kids in the whole school.  Every week, they pulled us out of class to have a Friday Shabbat service, and as a part of it, each grade would do a short skit for the teachers and parents, etc.  Each class would do one every 6 weeks or so.  As a kid, I guess I just had a good memory for learning the words, and I ended up getting onstage and being featured a lot.  It just kind of stuck from there.

Tell us a little more about your theater company?
We are dedicated to developing the uniquely theatrical voice of our community of collaborative artists. We celebrate the theatrical event of sharing a physical space with the audience, and we honor their impact as soon as they enter our lobby until after the show and the last drink is served.

 We share new voices. We create memorable experiences. We challenge ourselves and our community to follow one basic rule: demandbold theatre.

What do you love most about Queens?
I love that the neighborhood can still feel like a neighborhood, even with the amount of people and the diversity of the cultures all around us.  Every time I walk past my barber’s window, or my dry cleaner’s, or pass the cashier at my local wine shop in the street, and I can share a friendly smile and nod in recognition, I think to myself, “I really do love living in Queens.”

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
I’m a big fan of the Gantry Park in LIC and the neighboring bars and restaurants in that growing community. I love going out to Break on weekends for a couple of hours of pool and some beers.Of course, the Bohemian Beer Garden.  I am eager for spring to come so I can head back out to their picnic tables over too many pitchers.  Likewise, Studio Square.  Also, I’m quite fond of the new place on Broadway, the Strand.Finally, I think it’s important to know that The Chain Theatre has just opened in Long Island City, and that the venue promises to bring another home for Off-Off Broadway plays right in our backyard.  I’m very excited about the possibilities that having the space will afford to the variety of theater artists and companies who are based out of Queens. 

Current/Upcoming projects?

hero-taxdeduct#hero opened Feb 22 and runs until March 9

Wed-Saturdays at 8PM

Sundays at 2PM

at the Chain Theater

21-28 45th Road, LIC

#hero follows NYPD Officer Norman Burrows and his wife Grace. After Norman saves a woman who falls on the subway tracks, he becomes a social media sensation. As his public profile grows, their private life unravels, until the hero must expose his own myth.

Have we lost touch with ourselves in a hyper-connected world? Do our public acts define our private lives? It’s easy to connect with everyone; but is it worth it to connect with anyone?

For tickets and more info: www.taxdeductibletheatre.org

View Ava’s complete bio.

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Featured Artist: Dev Bondarin

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.

Dev Bondarin
Dev Bondarin

 

Website:  www.devbondarin.net

Title\Occupation
Freeelance Director and Associate Artistic Director of Prospect Theater Company

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
 Astoria since October 2008

How did you get involved in theater?
I got involved in theater in high school–I acted and helped build the sets. I had a drama teacher who was amazing. She was my first director and I remember when I was going to college I said I wanted to major in “being her”. That was probably the first time I articulated that I wanted to be a director!

What do you love most about Queens?
The feel of being in the city but everything feeling a little more laid back. Being able to easily walk from different areas of Astoria.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
I love dessert so Artopolis and Martha’s Country Bakery are on the top of the list. I love the views of the water in Astoria Park, and also the theater that I am able to check out in Queens!


Current/Upcoming projects?
I just directed and produced Prospect Theater Company’s annual musical theater lab: PORTRAITS.

We have 3 more performances –  Monday 2/25 @ 7:30, Thursday 2/28 @ 7:30, and Friday 3/1 @ 8pm.

More info is here: http://www.prospecttheater.org/2013/01/22/up-next-portraits-music-theater-lab-performances-feb-22-mar-1

Introducing The Propulsion Lab Writers Group

Introducing The Propulsion Lab

Mission to (dit)Mars, a theatre arts collective serving Queens artists, announces a new writers group serving emerging playwrights from the borough.

With the creation of the Launch Pad Reading Series and its mission of propelling plays forward, we have created a second key component to our mission, which is The Propulsion Lab!

The Propulsion Lab is a monthly writers group made up of Queens based playwrights.  The writers group will be curated and facilitated by Mission to (dit)Mars co-founders Kari Bentley-Quinn and Don Nguyen.

Don Nguyen explains “When we asked the vibrant theatre arts community in Queens what we could do to best serve their needs, the most popular response was a writers group.  Because Kari and I are both playwrights and have been or belong to many writers groups, it made sense to launch one.”
Regarding the inaugural members of the Propulsion Lab, Kari Bentley-Quinn adds “In my experience as a theater artist, I find that amazing work is generated when you get talented, smart and generous people in a room together. I do not think we could have put together a much better group of talented, smart and generous writers. I am excited beyond measure to see what will come out of this lab and what it will bring to the larger Queens artistic community.”

The inaugural members of the  Propulsion Lab are: Kari Bentley-Quinn (Astoria/Woodside), Jenny Lane (Astoria), Courtney Lauria (Astoria), Mariah MacCarthy (Astoria), Jane Miller (Sunnyside), Don Nguyen (Long Island City), and August Schulenburg (Astoria).

(clockwise: Courtney Lauria, Jenny Lane, Mariah MacCarthy, August Schulenburg, Kari Bentely-Quinn, Don Nguyen, and Jane Miller))
(clockwise: Courtney Lauria, Jenny Lane, Mariah MacCarthy, August Schulenburg, Kari Bentely-Quinn, Don Nguyen, and Jane Miller))

Click here to read the writers’ bios

Rachel McPhee

Rachel McPhee
Rachel McPhee

Neighborhood: Astoria
Website: http://www.rachelmcphee.com

Rachel McPhee is an actor and Executive Director and co-founder of On the Square Productions. She is a regular sketch performer with popular YouTube Channel Barely Political/The Key of Awesome. Favorite NY Credits include: Sleep No More (Special Events Supporting Cast), Vieux Carre ( The Pearl, dir. Austin Pendleton), The Footage ( The Flea), A Midsummer Night’s Dream ( OtSP) and most recently The Minervae in Athens Square Park with OtSP. Rachel received her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a postgraduate degree in Professional Acting from the Drama Studio London (UK).  She lives in Astoria with her husband, actor/playwright Rob Benson and their tuxedo cat, Romeo.

Ava Eisenson

Featured Artist: Ava Eisenson

The first in 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.

Ava Eisenson
Ava Eisenson

View Ava’s complete bio.

Title\Occupation
Actor

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
 Astoria–5 years

How did you get involved in theater?
 As a kid I was just sort of drawn to it.  I was a chicken in some community theatre show, and something about it just stuck.

What do you love most about Queens?
I can’t really speak about Queens as a whole, as I’ve only lived in Astoria.  But what I love around here is that I truly feel a part of a thoughtful, vibrant, and growing community.  I also like (that to many) the greatness of Astoria is a secret.  I understand that it can seem like there isn’t a lot going on, but once you live here…you begin to learn all the spots, and how good it feels to walk down these streets.  It’s so close to the city, and yet it has it’s own charm and ‘a place to get away’ feel to it without having to prove these qualities.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
 My most favorite spot in Queens is Sweet Afton.  I am totally biased because I’ve worked there on and off since it opened.  But, I hope that this speaks highly of the people that own the bar and work at it, that after spending so many working hours there…it’s still the first place I recommend.  I appreciate their low-key style, while maintaining attention to every detail of the experience you’ll have when you are there.

And they have live music now on Monday nights which is always so much fun!

Current/Upcoming projects?
I am currently in ‘The Mnemonist of Duchess County’ playing at Theatre Row until March 2nd.  A new play by Josh Koenigsberg and directed by Laura Savia.

Please come and check it out! For discounted tickets: TRATIC15 at broadwayoffers.com

View Ava’s complete bio.