Featured Artist: Audrey Dimola

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.

Audrey Dimola
Audrey Dimola

Title\Occupation
Journalist, editor, poet, and arts event curator.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I’ve been living in Long Island City and Astoria for my entire life!

Can you tell us a little more about Newtown Literary and the reading series you curate?
Newtown Literary (http://newtownliterary.org/) is Queens’ own literary journal – my fellow writer Tim Fredrick founded it, and I’m just an enthusiastic supporter ūüėČ The Queens literary community is really pushing forward, and it’s so exciting to me – there are now readings in Astoria, Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, Kew Gardens, and LIC popping up, and both writers and curators are reaching out, becoming so much more aware of each other, what exists here, and what has the potential to exist here.¬†My “Nature of the Muse” reading and live writing events will be every couple of months – they play with the nature of inspiration and what moves us to write. Thus far – the writers I feature read their previously written work but then have to write live from a random prompt written by someone in the audience! It’s been such a fun and outrageous experience – the second edition of the event is on April 4th and you can find out more about it here:¬†http://audreydimola.com/tag/nature-of-the-muse/.

What do you love most about Queens?
I’m a local girl through and through. Queens is in my blood – I love it, am proud of it, and will continue to crusade for arts and culture here for the rest of my life. I love the diversity, the mix of city life and beautiful public spaces, the hidden gems, the diversity of the people, the voices, the neighborhoods. The arts here are incredible! Spoken word, live music, theatre, visual arts of all sorts… And overall – there’s just a different feeling here. That sense of authenticity, “realness,” that many people ascribe to Queens is absolutely true, and I feel that more and more.

Do you have any “only in Queens” moments you’d like to share?
Just being able to have such special, one-off experiences Рthe first thing that comes to mind happened at Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights. I was interviewing my longtime pal, musician/curator Gus Rodriguez, for a magazine article, and he mentioned the kind of culture-blending experiences that are only possible in Queens. A little while afterwards, during the show he was playing at Espresso Рhe and his fellow musician, Jonny Meyers, who were playing rootsy rock and roll, spontaneously started jamming with African musicians playing traditional hand drums and a stringed instrument called a kora Рthey had randomly stopped in from a gig down the street! I was so happy to be there that night Рit was just so classically Queens.

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

The Yoga Room in LIC and Astoria is my second home. I always go to LIC’s Socrates Sculpture Park to clear my head and sit by the river. LIC Bar is so classy with its tin ceilings and of course the amazing carriage house with the fireplace out back, and Waltz-Astoria also always feels so cozy and welcoming to creatives of all types.¬†I’ve been going to Sanfords Restaurant on Broadway in Astoria for years, and I truly believe Samaria Pizza (also in Astoria) is made in heaven. Terraza 7 in Jackson Heights is one of my new favorite places – the First Tuesdays reading series (http://jacksonheightspoetryfestival.wordpress.com/) is held there, and not only do they have a “floating” stage on the 2nd floor where incredibly diverse talent can share their words and works – but there’s also hammocks!


Current/Upcoming projects?
Writing and doing readings – always! I’m constantly connecting with creatives, art enthusiasts, local business owners, and anyone passionate about Queens – I love finding out about their passions, spreading the word about what’s going on in the borough, and helping to connect people and promote their efforts.¬†Lately I’ve been working on interviewing¬†Queens creatives for my longtime friend/collaborator Liz and I’s webzine Glitter and Doom (http://glitteranddoom.com/), curating and hosting more local events with fun and unexpected themes, and editing my second book of poetry and prose, “Traversals.” See you all ’round town – say hi! ¬†Check out Audrey’s next reading event.

The 2013 Launch Pad Reading Series Kicks off with Bridges and Boundaries

BRIDGES AND BOUNDARIES

By Courtney Lauria

Directed by Tamara Fisch

Featuring Emily Simoness, Samantha Rosentrater, and Eric Clem

bridges-postcard

April 1, 2013 @7pm

The Chain Theatre
21-28 45th Rd, Long Island City, NY

Click here for reservations

In a brick house in Astoria, Queens, shadowed by the RFK bridge, a young woman is sorting her emotions. In jars. Literally. Claire’s phobias have gotten the best of her for long enough, and the way she is living doesn’t feel like living at all.  Bridges and Boundaries charts Claire’s quest to overcome her road blocks, and create a future she actually wants to feel.  This crafted tale explores love, trust, and issues that aren’t just water under the bridge.

Featured Artist: Courtney Lauria

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.

Courtney Lauria
Courtney Lauria

Title\Occupation
Playwright

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I moved to Astoria in February ’07.¬† For the first five years, I lived with my best friends off of Astoria Park. On New Year‚Äôs Day of 2012, I moved with my fianc√© to a new apartment off of Steinway.

How did you get involved in theater?
As a kid I had always loved musical theater.

I sang Annie all over the house and demanded a VHS copy of Fiddler on the Roof for an Easter gift. I was a strange little thing. In high school I joined the drama club and loved going on trips to NYC to see shows. As far as writing goes — that didn’t happen until I was in college. I was a theater major, but with every play I acted in, I would get more and more frightened to go on stage.¬† I took a playwriting class on a whim and fell in love with my professor, Anna Dolan.¬† We would do a “free write” before each class and I had such a hard time with it. She would constantly wave her hand in my face and say “stop thinking.‚ÄĚ To this date, I still do that exercise; it really helps my brain expel the clutter.¬† In her class I wrote a play called “Someday You’ll Find It,” which got me a summer apprentice position with New York Stage and Film at Vassar.¬† After that summer it was time to make the move to NYC.

What do you love most about Queens?
Well, first, we have to start with how you get there. I love the N/Q train. I love that I can get a seat.¬† I love the guy that coaches basketball and asks, “If you don’t have change, at least have a smile.‚ÄĚ I love that I am 20 minutes to midtown and 20 minutes to Citi Field.¬† Astoria is a¬†real¬†neighborhood. It is such a cozy place to live. I love that no matter what time of day it is you can always smell baked bread.

Do you have any “only in Queens” moments you’d like to share?
I used to sit on the roof of my old apartment and watch the Astoria Park 4th of July fireworks and it felt like it was a private show.

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

Love:

Sweet Afton for Deep Fried Pickles

Sugar Freak for EVERYTHING

Monday night summer movies in Astoria Park

Walking along Steinway during Christmas to see all the lights and hear the music 

What was your inspiration for your play Bridges and Boundaries?
I started Bridges and Boundaries years ago when I lived between the RFK (then Tri-boro) and the Hells Gate Bridge. Those homes in that 6 block radius between the 2 bridges, it’s an interesting little niche. It’s a very sweet, safe, and pretty little neighborhood.¬†¬†¬†I stood outside on my stoop and noticed all of the different ways I could go.¬† Take the RFK by car; take the Hells Gate by Amtrak; take the short walk to 31st Street and jump the train to Manhattan.¬† All these different ways to get going and I could see all of them.¬† It’s a unique place to live — you can actually¬†see¬†every route available to get out of town.¬† At this same time my father was starting to develop a fear of driving over bridges.¬† This is a man who grew up in New York — first in Brooklyn and then various places on Long Island before moving down south.¬† He is a New Yorker. He never had a problem with bridges, and then one day, white knuckled as he drove over some bridge – he declared he is not driving over bridges anymore. It got me thinking, what if you let that fear take over you while you lived somewhere where you¬†had to¬†go over bridges or through tunnels to get anywhere.

Current/Upcoming projects?
I have just become a member of the Queens-based writing group The Propulsion Lab, which is very exciting. Bridges and Boundaries is getting a reading at the Chain Theater in Long Island City on April 1st.

Featured Artist: Kari Bentley-Quinn

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.

Kari Bentley-Quinn
Kari Bentley-Quinn

Title\Occupation
Playwright/Founding Member of Mission to (dit)Mars

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I live right on the Astoria/Woodside border. My zip is Woodside but if I walk one block I’m in Astoria. I’ve lived east of Steinway off 30th avenue for almost 9 (!) years now.

How did you get involved in theater?
My first role was a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz when I was in 6th grade. The following year, my class went on a school trip to see Les Mis. Blew my little 12 year old mind! I have been doing theater ever since. I was an actor until I was in my 20′s, and then writing took over.

What do you love most about Queens?
Queens is awesome for so many reasons, but I really think one of its biggest strengths is that the people who live here are laid back and not pretentious. You can throw on a pair of jeans and no makeup and head out to a bar with no worries. It’s affordable, safe, and extremely ethnically diverse. What we lack in brownstones we more than make up for in diversity and character. I love it here. I’ve lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and Queens is by far my favorite. It’s my home.

Do you have any “only in Queens” moments you’d like to share?
I was standing in line one day at Gian Piero bakery (30th avenue and 45th street, best Italian bakery in Astoria!) and I heard 5 different languages being spoken at the same time. That’s Queens in a nutshell for you.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Other than Gian Piero (and really any of the bakeries in Astoria, you can’t go wrong) my top picks are:
 
Trattoria L’Incontro¬†(Astoria) – the best Italian restaurant in the city. No question. It’s super highly rated in Zagat and half the price of comparable places in Manhattan. Don’t order off the menu. Get the specials. Trust me.

Sorriso’s Pork Store
 (Astoria) РWonderful Italian salumeria on 30th avenue. Their soppresata is made in-house, as well as their fresh mozzarella, and the warm friendly staff is more than happy to let you try before you buy.

Off the Vine
 (Astoria) Рa wonderful wine store with warm, friendly owners and a selection of smaller producers. They hold wine tastings frequently and they usually have a delicious spread of cheese and nibbles available.
 
Sugarfreak¬†(Astoria) – A little bit of New Orleans in Astoria. I have never had a bad meal there. I’m kind of obsessed.
 
Museum of the Moving Image¬†(Astoria) – Just go. It’s awesome.
Alewife (Long Island City) РGorgeous space, amazing beers on tap, good food, great staff.
 
Nan Xiang Dumpling House¬†(Flushing) – Soup dumplings. I’m just saying. And Flushing is awesome. It’s like visiting another country. Lots of great Korean/Chinese food
There are many many many more, but those come immediately to mind.

Current/Upcoming projects?
I have a workshop of my play THE UNLIKELY ASCENT OF SYBIL STEVENS opening this weekend at another great Queens institution ‚ÄstThe Secret Theatre. It‚Äôs directed by Chris Diercksen (a Mission to (dit)Mars artist!) and it runs only three performances‚Ķso get tickets now! All the info, including a description of the play, is here. Tickets are only $10. Hope to see everyone there.

Featured Artist: Rachel McPhee

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.

Rachel McPhee - This candid photo was taken at the Astoria blvd stop!
Rachel McPhee – This candid photo was taken at the Astoria blvd stop!

Title\Occupation
Actor, Executive Director of On the Square Productions

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I have lived in Astoria for almost 5 years. Currently, I live by the Neptune Diner near the Astoria Blvd N/Q stop. I have been there for 2 years, which is dangerous. Because that diner is great. And its open 24 hours…

How did you get involved in theater?
My dad was the Managing Artistic Director at the Racine Theatre Guild in Racine, Wisconsin and my mom was an English teacher who moonlighted in costume design. I remember being at rehearsals with my dad¬†from the time I could toddle around. Call it cheap child care.¬†While¬†Cat Amongst the Pigeons¬†might not be appropriate for a 3 year old, I loved every moment of being there. I literally did not see another option of what to do with my life and was in my first play when I was 5. I’m still hooked!

Tell us a little more about your theater company?
On the Square has been around since 2008. Since then, we have produced 6 mainstage productions in festivals, outdoors and at The Flea and 59e59 as well as countless Write Angle readings and special events. Our mission statement has developed alot over the years. We focus on new plays, emerging writers and doing whatever we can to aid the playwright in their creation process. More can be found at www.onthesquareproductions.com

What do you love most about Queens?
I love the unfancy, unpretentious-ness of it all. I don’t have to dress up or wear a Williamsburg Halloween costume to go to Key Foods.

Do you have any “only in Queens” moments you’d like to share?
I¬†live¬†near the end of the N/Q line, so I typically get a seat on the subway. I¬†see it as a ¬†bad omen or¬†know it will be a¬†“crazy day” if I don’t get a seat in the morning…

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Bareburger- OtSP sponsors and really one of my fave restaurants of all time
Museum of the Moving Image – an absolute MUST SEE and free on Target Fridays…
Current/Upcoming projects?
OtSP is working on a physical theatre adaptation of The Snow Queen which will be presented in May at University Settlement where we are Artists in Residence. I’ll be¬†playing a multitude of roles in that. ¬†You can always find out what I am up to at¬†www.rachelmcphee.com!

 

View Rachel’s complete bio.