Featured Artist: 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

Title\Occupation
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.
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Featured Artist: Julie Congress

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.

Julie Congress
Julie Congress

Title\Occupation
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.

Julie Congress

Julie Congress
Julie Congress

Neighborhood: Astoria
Website: http://www.no11productions.com

Julie Congress is a founding member/Co-Artistic Director of No.11 Productions and is an actor, director and voiceover artist. Selected acting credits: “Quest for the West: Adventures on the Oregon Trail!” (Kentucky Repertory Theatre, FringeNYC, FRIGID New York, Capital Fringe), “The Eyes of Orbach” (FRIGID New York), “Coosje” (FRIGID New York, Fringe Wilmington), “A Christmas Carol” (Kentucky Repertory Theater), “Medea” (FRIGID New York), “Lysistrata” (FringeNYC, SaratogaArtsFest), “MythUnderstood” (educational touring), “Jet of Blood” (FRIGID New York). Directing credits include: “Survived By” (Columbia University/3LD), “Greatest Place on Earth” (NYU), “The Acharnians” (Assistant Director, Stella Adler Studio of Acting), “Places” (Under St. Marks), “The Elephant Man – the Musical” (Capital Fringe). Julie holds a BS in theatre from Skidmore College, studied at the Moscow Art Theatre School and is the co-chapter director of the New York Thespian Society.