Featured Artist: Jane Miller

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.

Jane Miller  (photo by Joanna Wylomanska)
Jane Miller (photo by Joanna Wylomanska)

Playwright and Screenwriter. Copywriter for a non-profit during the day.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I live on the Sunnyside/Woodside border and I’ve been here for about nine months. So, I’m a relative newbie. But I love it!

How did you get involved in theater?
When I was 16, I joined a youth theater group on East 4th Street called Downtown Art. I acted in lots of plays and made some great friends, including Laura Pestronk, a Mission to Ditmars member.  I loved the community that we all created. Eventually I realized I was too introverted for acting and much too self-conscious, but I loved creating a story. That’s how I ended up becoming a writer.

What do you love most about Queens?
I feel a real sense of perseverance in Queens. As in, people are always working to get ahead in the world and improve their lives, and I really like that energy. When I think about what Queens symbolizes, I always think of John Guare’s play “The House of Blue Leaves,” which  is a lot about striving for something in your life. I also believe it takes place in Sunnyside.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
This is not a single moment so much as a collection of Saturday morning memories on the 7 train. When I was in high school, my parents sent me to a hagwon, a Korean “cram” school in Flushing. I would spend a few hours every weekend preparing for standardized tests. There were a whole bunch of these schools in Flushing and they always felt very exclusive to Queens. Maybe that goes back to the “getting ahead” kind of energy and spirit in Queens.

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

The cutest coffee shop in all of Sunnyside/Woodside. They have amazing rainbow cookies and a great chili/beer special. They also have a $15 “wine down” after work special, which is a bottle for just $15, http://www.auberginecafe.com/

Phyzique, http://phyzique4life.com/ – an affordable, neighborhoody gym that makes me laugh because they have a “z” in their name.

Tell us a little about the play you’re developing in the Propulsion Lab?
The play I’m developing is about a young woman who is being cyberstalked. She decides to escape her life by adopting a completely new identity and leaving her friends and family behind. I’m playing around with the idea of having many lives in one life.

Current/Upcoming projects?
Heading to get my MFA in Screenwriting in the Fall at UCLA in LA! But who knows, I may be back to Queens in a few years.

Featured Artist: Jiehae Park

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.

Jiehae Park
Jiehae Park

Actor and playwright. playwright and actor? word order depends on the day.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Sunnyside, 1 and 3/4 years.

How did you get involved in theater?
for the first grade spring musical, i was cast as a pussywillow. but man, i really wanted to be a daffodil. really really. they had these awesome yellow hats made out of construction paper and a better song. so i marched up to the teacher and politely-but-firmly requested to join the daffodils.  present-day me could probably learn a lot from that 1st-grader.

What do you love most about Queens?
The surprising number of super-talented friends who live out here, and the general sense of –and this word gets thrown out a lot, but i really feel it in queens– community

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
Walking down with friends and neighbors to Gantry State Park in LIC after the hurricane and seeing half of the Manhattan skyline lit up, the other half in shadow. Then walking back to Sunnyside and feeling major gratitude over fresh mozzerella pizza from Lenny’s
Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Fish and chips in the back garden room at Molly Blooms
Sunnyside Gardens. Trees = happiness.
Korean grocery stores (my people are really good with produce)

Current/Upcoming projects?
HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO will be developed at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and Ojai Playwrights Conference this summer, and will have readings June 26th at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center and in early June for the 2013 Leah Ryan Prize.

All Systems Go! June 24th



An Evening of Excerpts from the Propulsion Lab Plays

By Kari Bentley-Quinn, Jennifer Lane, Courtney Lauria, Mariah MacCarthy, Jane Miller, Don Nguyen, and August Schulenberg

Directed by Christopher Diercksen, Dev Bondarin and Don Nguyen

Featuring Samantha Rosentrater, Shaun Fauntleroy, Natalie Kim, Katrina Day, Samantha Walsh, Stuart Luth, Gus Schulenburg, Jason Liebman, Alexandra O’Daly, Sol Marina Crespo, Curry Whitmire and David Shih.

Our seven members of the Propulsion lab writers group have been hard at work on their new plays and they’re excited to share some excerpts with you.

June 24, 2013 @7pm

The Chain Theatre
21-28 45th Rd, Long Island City
E, M, G to Court Sq.
7 to Court Sq.
N, Q to Queensboro Plaza

The event is free.

A reception will be held in the lobby of the Chain Theatre immediately following the reading.  Please join us for complimentary wine.  Beer and snacks can also be purchased.

View photos from All Systems Go!

Mariana Newhard

Featured Artist: Mariana Newhard

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.

Mariana Newhard
Mariana Newhard

Actor, Writer moonlighting as Videographer

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I’ve been living in Astoria for a little over a year now.

How did you get involved in theater?
My debut into the theater was playing princess Annabelle in “Cinderfellow” in the 5th grade. I haven’t lived up to that performance since.

What do you love most about Queens?
I love a) the diversity of cultures. I grew up in a multi-cultural environment, so I love being able to explore different ethnic pockets especially when it involves food!
b) it’s midpoint between neighborly and cool. Queens and especially Astoria has homey family oriented neighborhoods. But it’s also a draw for artists and entrepreneurs who are contributing to a growing arts, dining and night life culture.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Bars and Restaurants: The Sparrow, Queens Kickshaw, The Bohemian Beer Garden, Sweet Afton, HinoMaru and Taverna Kyclades.
Points of interest: Socrates Park (free yoga and film series in the summer!), Astoria Park, MoMa PS 1 (Warm UP in the summer is da bomb), Museum of the Moving Image.

Current/Upcoming projects?
Last month I was featured as Crystal Lemon in the premiere screening of the short film “The Snake and the Parrot” directed by Amy Guggenheim at Anthology Film Archives (hosted by New York Women in Film and Television),  and shot a Mitsubishi commercial in The Florida Keys. This month I’ll be playing Andromache in “Troy Is Burning ” for Lunar Energy’s Benefit at The Gibson Showroom on  +Monday June 10th. (tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/382417). Also at the end of this month, I’ll be taking part in a week long residency at MASS MoCA joining the creative team of “Trade Practices” led by Kristin Marting and David Morris. “Trade Practices” is slated for production at HERE Theater Center this fall.

New Summer Event: Writing to Ditmars


Join Mission to (dit)Mars this summer for a 3-part, interactive mindfulness and writing workshop designed specially for Queens-based writers and artists to gain inspiration from our own neighborhood.

Mindfulness and Creative Writing teacher Emily Herzlin will lead the class in walking meditation, mindfulness on the subway, mindful eating, and writing prompts to enrich our creative experience as well as our experience of Queens.

We’ll start off with our first workshop in Gantry Plaza State Park, travel in our second workshop along the NQ train line and write (yes, on the subway!) and end our writing mission in—where else?—Ditmars, for mindful eating and food writing at Martha’s Country Bakery.

$5-$10 suggested donation for each class. Attend just one, two, or all three. Stay tuned for more specific descriptions of each class, and instructions regarding where to meet up.

No experience with mindfulness necessary. Writers of all genres welcome.



Sunday, June 16th, 12-2pm (rain location TBA)

7 train to Vernon-Jackson, walk to the East River.

In Part I of our summer writing workshop series we’ll explore the waterfront at Gantry Plaza State Park. On the agenda: sense perception awareness exercises, walking meditation, writing prompts, sharing writing aloud (optional,) and more.

Writers of all genres welcome. No experience with meditation necessary.

Meet promptly at noon at the Gantries between 49th/50th Ave. and Center Blvd. From there we will depart as a group to another location. (Try to arrive at the meeting place a little early, around 11:45am.)  Here are some points of interest at Gantry State Park.

Bring paper and something to write with.

In case of rain, we will meet at a location tba, and an email will be sent to those who RSVP in advance. You can check our Facebook page for updates, too.

NOTE: it is not necessary to RSVP, but helpful for us to get a head count.


Sunday, August 11th, 2-4pm

In Part II of our summer writing workshop series we’ll investigate our joyful, wretched, bored, exhausted, amusing, richly complicated relationship to the NYC subway. On the agenda: basic introduction to mindfulness, journal prompts, awareness exercises and subway writing prompts, personal writing time, and sharing writing aloud.

Meet promptly at 2pm at Packard Square Café, 41-43 Crescent St, near Queensboro Plaza. We will meet there briefly for introductions and instructions. (They have a small outdoor seating area out back, where we will be if weather permits. Otherwise we will meet inside.) From there we will board the train at Queensboro Plaza. More instructions will be given on the day of the workshop.

Bring paper and something to write with.

NQ Train to Queensboro Plaza.

Note: It is not necessary to RSVP, but helpful for us to get a head count.

PART III—MARTHA’S COUNTY BAKERY (Ditmars): Sunday, August 25th, 3-5pm

In the grand finale of our summer writing workshop series we’ll indulge–mindfully–and practice mindful eating and write about food at the Astoria favorite, Martha’s Country Bakery. On the agenda: basic introduction to mindfulness, food-based writing prompts, sense perception exercises, discussion and sharing writing aloud, and, of course, dessert.

Meet promptly at  3pm at Martha’s Country Bakery. We’ll most likely be inside at a table, but if it’s crowded we will get a table outside. If it’s REALLY crowded we will gather at Martha’s, get our pastries, and walk to Astoria Park for the workshop.

Bring paper and something to write with, and enough cash for a pastry or two plus tip.

N/Q Train to Ditmars

Martha’s Country Bakery
3621 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105
$5-$10 suggested donation

Note: It is not necessary to RSVP, but VERY helpful for us to get a head count to secure enough seating.
Any questions, feel free to email Mindfulwriters@gmail.com.

Please RSVP below:


At the tender age of twelve, Emily decided she would grow up to be the female Frank Rich and get paid to write about theater for a living. But then, in a summer writing workshop at Young Playwrights Inc. just before she made the arduous journey from Long Island to NYU, she discovered what it means to write a play. After studying different flavors of writing at Columbia and Naropa Universities, these days Emily mostly writes creative nonfiction and poetry (publications include USA Today, The Millions, The Women’s International Perspective, and more.) She has folded mindfulness meditation into her creative life to tackle the writing roadblocks that inevitably pop up, and to broaden her awareness in order to excavate more material to write about. Emily is training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at UMass Medical School this summer, and has taught meditation and creative writing for the past two years at Columbia University, The Interdependence Project, The New School, and GreenspaceNYC. Check out her writing and other upcoming classes at EmilyHerzlin.com or follow her on Twitter: @emilyherzlin.

(Emily’s love affair with Astoria has been the kind of thing where you’re tentative at first, but then you let go and fall hard, and then you discover all the things that annoy you about each other, but you deeply love each other anyway and can’t stop eating at bakeries.)

Featured Artist: Erin McCarson

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.

Erin McCarson
Erin McCarson

Actor, Comedian, Singer, Songwriter, Voice Actor, Artist, Creative Type
(with a little nannying and hair-styling on the side)

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Astoria! The best! Same apartment for almost a decade now.

How did you get involved in theater?
It’s a part of my DNA. Performing is my greatest love! Always has been. I did my first play when I was 3 or 4 at church. Oh man, those church plays were awful and spectacular. And I’ve been acting ever since. I wrote my first play in 8th grade. It was about Pluto leaving the solar system, with dance numbers. Very heavy stuff! I studied acting at UNC Chapel Hill and NYU. I have been acting in NYC for almost 10 year in theater and film. I am also a founding member of the dirty doowop band, Cudzoo & the faggettes. Creating your own work is so important for the creative soul and gives you the power to provide performance opportunities for yourself.

What do you love most about Queens?
One day I was walking on my block and saw a strange furry thing in a trash can. Upon closer inspection, it was an adorable ginger baby guinea pig! The neighborhood cats were gathering with hungry eyes and I knew I had to save this sweet little creature. As I was trying to figure out the best rescue plan, some girls from the building came out and said they threw it out because they thought it was a rat. Idiots. Bitches. Seriously? Idiots! That is the most flamboyant rat in the history of rats. Cunt punt! I took the little creature home, put it in the my bathtub with some carrots and water (closed off from my curious cats), and headed across the street to gather supplies with a friend and fellow animal lover. We drove to a pet store and got a cage, bedding, food, toys, everything a guinea pig could want. We introduced her to her new home and named her Cheesedoodle. Cheesedoodle lived with me for several months. She made funny noises and loved fruits and vegetables. A friend of mine wanted a pet, but could not have a cat or dog. Cheesedoodle was the perfect solution. She had a long wonderful life in her forever home and brought happiness to my friend’s family. I am still not sure how a rogue guinea pig ended up on the mean streets of Queens, but I am glad I could be the one to save her! RIP Cheesedoodle! I love you, gurrrrrrrrrrl!

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
I love when family and friends visit my neighborhood! There is so much to show them! I used to get into lots of booze-fueled fun trouble at The Sparrow and The Bohemian Beer Garden. The Beer Garden was more fun when they encouraged rowdiness in the garden (there was a summer they served pitchers of Long Island Iced Tea for, like, $10. Pitchers! I fell in love a lot that summer.).  The atmosphere is different now, but the food is delicious, the beer is cold, and they often host fun events. I have some dear friends who even got married there. I think 5 Pointz is amazing. The Museum of Moving Image is my favorite museum in the whole city. I’ll admit it, having a Costco close by is fucking rad!  I love Astoria Park and Socrates Sculpture ParkFlushing Meadows-Corona Park is beautiful. You can explore the World’s Fair grounds, check out the unbelievable panorama of the city at the Queens Museum of Art, and catch a Mets game (bless their hearts) all in one day. Right now I am obsessed with the ramen at HinoMaru. Queens Comfort has the best brunch. Nook N’ Crannie is my go to shop for deals on antiques, furniture, gifts, and knickknacks, and they deliver. Spa Castle is the best daycation money can buy! And, well, my apartment! Come on over for some moonshine and crafting!

Current/Upcoming projects?
I always have something exciting going on! I like to stay busy. Check my website (erinmccarson.com) or follow me on facebook (facebook.com/erinmccarson) for the latest news. Right now I am most excited about a movie I was in, He’s Way More Famous Than You (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2076216), opening in theaters across the country May 10. It will be playing in New York at the AMC Lowes Village 7. Go see it! And there is always a Cudzoo & the faggettes show around the corner. Follow us on facebook for dates and funny status updates about dicks and glitter (https://www.facebook.com/CudzooFaggettes).