Our 2013 Year In Review

MtD 2013 Year In Review

A lot can happen in a year, especially in Queens.  Here’s a look back at what we accomplished in 2013:

February 2013

We created The Propulsion Lab Writers Group and announced our inaugural group of writers (Jennifer Lane, Jane Miller, August Schulenburg, Mariah MacCarthy, Courtney Lauria, Kari Bentley-Quinn and Don Nguyen).
(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))
 

April 2013

We continued our Launch Pad Reading Series featuring the brand new play Bridges and Boundaries  by Courtney Lauria!
 
website-sticky-photo
 
Also in April, the amazing We Heart Astoria blog named Mission to (dit)Mars one of the finalists in their annual The Best of Astoria Readers Poll!
FINALIST_Best_of_Astoria_2013_BUTTON

May 2013

If you know Mission to (dit)Mars, then you know we love hosting mixers!  In May we held our Spring Fling Mixer at Open Door Restaurant in Long Island City.

June 2013

We followed that up in June with an evening of excerpts from our Propulsion Lab Group (All Systems Go!)
all-systems-go-event-banner
 
 

Summer 2013

We didn’t take a break over the summer.  Instead, we launched a summer Mindful Writing Workshop led by Emily Herzlin that took you all over Queens, starting at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, on the subway (N/Q Train!) and concluded at Martha’s Bakery on Ditmars!  Mission Accomplished!
ganty-state-park
 

August 2013

In August we added four new members to the Propulsion Lab (Lisa Huberman, David Lawson, Kristine Reyes, and Tyler Rivenbark).
New Propulsion lab members

October 2013

We wrapped up our Launch Pad Reading Series with a brand new play The Fields of Blue and Glow by August Schulenburg, continuing our mission of not only championing new plays, but also exploring all parts of Queens by presenting the reading in the beautiful carriage house at LIC Bar.
blue-glow-poster2
 
 

August – December 2013

The Propulsion Lab kept busy throughout the fall working on brand new plays!  We also found time to take a field trip to The Public Theater!
Kevin Christopher Snipes, Public Theater Literary Assistant (who lives in Woodside) hosted a meet and greet with the Propulsion Lab members
Kevin Christopher Snipes, Public Theater Literary Assistant (who lives in Woodside) hosted a meet and greet with the Propulsion Lab members!
 

You in 2013!

And last but certainly not least, we were proud to feature 23 new Queens artists on our website throughout the year!  You can read up on all of our featured artists here.
 

Mission to (dit)Mars was created by four people who love Queens and it has been sustained throughout the year by all of you.  Thank you so much for making 2013 such a productive and artistically rewarding year for us.  We couldn’t have done it without you!  We’ve managed to accomplish all of this with very little money.  If you’d like to support us, click here to find out the best way to do so!

Happy New Year and see you in 2014 in Queens!

The Mission to (dit)Mars Team

Kari Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer and Laura Pestronk

Featured Artist: Lisa Lewis

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.

Lisa Lewis at Loveday 31 Vintage on 31st Avenue.
Lisa Lewis at Loveday 31 Vintage on 31st Avenue.

Title\Occupation
Playwright

Where were you born?
Sherman Oaks, California. Back in the days of the Valley Girl.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Astoria, going on two years.

How did you get involved in theater?
My parents were theatre makers, actors who met in NY in the 1970s at a singing lesson. When I was a kid, my dad and I watched every Hollywood musical from the Harvey Girls to Guys and Dolls, and birthday presents were always show tickets and windowcards. And as an only child, the feeling of being one big family on a show- the actors, the designers, the stage hands – really spoke to me.

What do you love most about Queens?
My boyfriend David! Ha! I moved here from Brooklyn for him, and I was not an easy sell. He’s born and raised in Astoria, and his parents still live in their family home just around the corner from our place. I love Queens because it’s homey and grounded. It’s got fantastic new restaurants, but it’s still holding on to its diversity and character. I hope there will always be families, and old Italian delis. I love you Dave and Tony’s and United Brothers Vegetable Stand and Mediterranean Foods on 34th Street that lets me try every cheese. It really feels like a place to call home.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
My boyfriend’s family has lived in Queens since the 30s, and they are old-school Italians. I am now privy to a world of private social clubs, restaurants that cater to the people from one particular island or village. Queens has tons of these curious little places, each with a unique cuisine and dialect and people that know each other going back to the old country. Over at the Astor Room, the son of the owner played on the same little league team with my boyfriend and their fathers both made grappa in their basements so we were treated to some highly alcoholic homemade wine and an after hours tour of the sound stages in the Astoria Kaufman Studios. For a cinephile like me, it was pretty amazing. I love that Astorian’s go way back, and that the city was it’s own Hollywood back in the day.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Oh, so many! The sexy Mars Bar for oysters and cocktails, MilkFlower and Basil for pizza, Bambinos for cheesy panini brunches, E-Taverna and MP’s for Greek, Mezze Place (wonderful, family owned Mediterranean fare), Sparrow and Queens Kickshaw for crosswords on Sunday, JJ’s Fusion for takeout and Vesta or Venturo’s for a beautiful dinner. Cannelle Patisserie for deserts. And I love shopping at Loveday 31 Vintage and Lockwood, hanging out in the summer at Gantry State Plaza, and sledding in Astoria Park.

Current/Upcoming projects?
I’m currently at work on a TV sitcom pilot called The Gamble and a play by the same name. Please look out for my production of SCHOOLED coming to New York in August 2014 – and very soon, keep your eyes out for the SCHOOLED crowdfunding campaign. And check out New York Theatre Magazine where I contribute artist profiles.http://nytheatremag.com You can find me at www.LisaLewisWriting.com

Featured Artist: Kel Haney

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.

Kel Haney
Kel Haney

Title\Occupation
Freelance Director

Where were you born?
West Chester, PA

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Astoria—Ditmars. It’ll be 6 years in May.

How did you get involved in theater?
I’ve been telling stories (& strong-arming those around me to listen/participate) since I could talk. My parents were great about taking me to theatre in/around Philadelphia & I never missed an opportunity to participate in the plays at school. In 12th grade, I finally clocked that there were people out there who were actual theatre professionals & I was ready to join the ranks. In lieu of class, I spent the last month of high school interning at this great regional theatre (People’s Light and Theatre in Malvern, PA), which was only 15 minutes from my parents’ house . During that month, I shadowed as many different theatre artists as possible, and found my calling as director.

What do you love most about Queens?
Nature and the people. I love that my day starts and ends with an above-ground subway ride, that I can walk to the park and sit by the water, that my apartment windows look out onto trees and sky. I love living amongst people who are grounded, friendly and just going about their day-to-day lives. Living in Astoria, I find perspective and serenity, even on the most stressful days.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
My Greek landlady (who also lives next door) loves to feed me. I get especially excited about the tiny green grapes that she grows in her yard (they are transcendently amazing and are only ripe for a week or two in July) and the cookies she bakes for Greek Easter.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Any/all food/beverages at Sparrow. Dinner/wine at Vesta Trattoria (you have to try the Baby Jesus Cake). Scallops at Taverna Kyclades. Brunch at Queen’s Comfort. Cupcakes at Martha’s Bakery. Whiskey cocktails at The Strand. Daytime-work sessions at Waltz-Astoria. Yoga Agora ($5 classes!). The Sky View Room at MoMA’s PS 1. Astoria Park (every Astorian needs to find his/her favorite ‘thinking spot’).
Current/Upcoming projects?
Collaborating with Gardiner Comfort on his solo piece, YOU’RE NOT TOUGH, which will be performed at Dixon Place on Tuesday, 12/3 at 7:30. Tickets $12 in advance atwww.dixonplace.org. In another week or two, you’ll be able to listen to the Naked Radio at Naked Angels episode Kel directed (featuring new plays by Max Posner, Anna Ziegler and new-comer, Sylvia Khury) at http://nakedangels.com/nakedradio/. For more information on Kel, check out www.kelhaney.com

Featured Artist: Flor De Liz Perez

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.

Flor De Liz Perez with her Grandmother, Hortencia, in Corona, Jackson Heights
Flor De Liz Perez with her Grandmother, Hortencia, in Corona, Jackson Heights

Title\Occupation
Actress, Writer/Performer with the NY Neo-Futurists

Where were you born?
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I came here when I was five and was raised in Jamaica Estates, Queens until moving away to upstate NY for middle school. There were a lot more stops along the way, including schooling in PA and NC, but the road always leads back to Queens! (More on that in the next few answers).

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I live in Astoria now (again). I moved to Astoria after grad school and lived here for a year. Then I migrated to Greenpoint, BK for about 6 months, after which I came back to Astoria, where I’ve been ever since (this leg of the journey is going on 2 years).

How did you get involved in theater?
It started with storytelling. My mom was really into reading and telling me stories when I was a kid. When we started doing plays in elementary school (P.S. 131 in Jamaica Estates, Queens), I discovered such joy in acting out stories and getting to be different characters (my favorite roles included a piranha and a penguin). I continued cherishing written stories and found more and more ways into performance as I grew.

However, it wasn’t until college when I decided that I wanted to dedicate myself to the theatre as a profession. I majored in English Lit and Theatre, and studied abroad in London for a semester at the London Dramatic Academy. There, I was infused with a new appreciation for what being a theatre artist in the world meant.

Being in a culture where theatre was viewed as an essential part of society; and seeing how my teachers, who were working actors and theatre-makers themselves, had created lives rich in creativity, community, action, dedication to the craft, social consciousness and citizenry inspired me.

I knew then that I wanted to be a part of the theatre in some form for the rest of my life.

What do you love most about Queens?
I ADORE the wide range of neighborhoods, diversity, people, FOOD! Every nook and cranny of Queens offers a different experience.

Also, Queens=family! My mother grew up in Corona, Jackson Heights (off the Junction Blvd stop) with her brothers and mother. A lot of her family came through Jackson Heights upon arriving from Dominican Republic in the 50s/60s. My uncles actually still live in the house they were raised in with my mother! They made it a split-level, so one is on the first floor with his family, the other on the second floor with his family. So my cousins, aunts, uncles and abuela are all in one place! I knew I always had a home there.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
I remember doing a performance of “Jackson Heights 3AM” at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights with Theatre 167 (another Queens-based company!). Walking into the school for the first time, the message board by the entrance astounded me. There were school notices posted in about 15 languages, from Spanish to English to Bengali. I thought, “Wow.” It was a moment of true reflection about the neighborhood we were in.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Ooh…this is a tough one. Off the top of my head:

Jardin de China (off Junction Blvd 7 stop. Legit Chino-Latino food!! My mom used to come here as a kid and I remember meeting the owner when I was young. His family still runs the place. BEST fried rice, pork ribs, platanos…everything.
http://m.yelp.com/biz/jardin-de-china-corona)

1) Sweet Afton (off 30th Ave N stop. Love Love LOVE their fried pickles! Great atmosphere.
www.sweetaftonbar.com)

2) The Sparrow Tavern (great bar off Astoria Blvd N stop…right around the corner from my house!
www.thesparrowtavern.com)

3) Othello’s Deli (also around the corner from me. Great for late night sandwiches…and they deliver!
www.othellodeli.com)

4) Rapture (amazing bar off 30th Ave N stop with great nightly specials. 2-for-1 pitchers of sangria!? Yes, please. Eclectic atmosphere and clients.
www.rapturelounge.com)

5) Socrates Sculpture Park (Beautiful place. LIC, 7 train.
www.socratessculpturepark.org)

6) Noguchi Museum (I remember being struck with a sense of such peace and awe when I first visited here. LIC 7 train.
www.noguchi.org)

7) Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (off Mets Willets Point 7 stop. I learned to ride my bike around the Unisphere out there. World’s Fair! And they filmed Men in Black there. Sweet place.)

**I haven’t even hit on the great Indian food found out by 74th St off the E/7/R/M Roosevelt Ave stop! Just take a trip out there and get lost. So many unique spots.**

Current/Upcoming projects?
I’ve recently filmed a few episodes of “The Good Wife” on CBS recently, with the next one airing December 15.

We just closed the premiere of PIRIRA by J.Stephen Brantley, directed by Ari Laura Kreith (also with Theatre 167).
www.theatre167.org

And I leave in December to work on the world premiere of Marcus Gardley’s beautiful play THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND, directed by Patricia McGregor, at Berkeley Rep and Yale Rep. Very excited to be a part of telling this story. Look it up! Fascinating and moving tale of a free woman of color and her three daughters in 1860s New Orleans (loosely based on Lorca’s THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA).
www.berkeleyrep.org
www.yalerep.org