Putting a Human Face on Homelessness. Lisa Huberman on Evensong by Christina Quintana at Astoria Performing Arts Center.
What is poverty supposed to look like? And how do you recover your sense of worth when your life fails to live up to its potential, even if you have followed all of the rules the American Dream assures will lead to success? These are the central questions that animate Christina Quintana’s Evensong, the raw yet tender drama of homelessness in New York City, brought to vivid life at The Astoria Performing Arts Center.
In Evensong, we follow Teofilo “Teo” Aguilar (Daniel Prado), a Texas transplant to New York who has found himself checking into a homeless shelter after a string of bad luck. As an educated, clean-cut bank teller, Teo does not think of himself as a typical homeless person. He is definitely, he believes, of a different class and species from, say, the cagey Gladys (Marie Louise Guinier), who obsesses over the hot water kettle and absurdly demands a vegetarian option at their subsidized shelter meal. The tension between Teo’s financial circumstances and his self-identity remain a tension throughout the play. He may flirt with the shelter volunteer Bob (Chad Castarphen), and yet his role as a resident of the facility draws an invisible line between their chemistry. At his job for Bank of America, Teo has to scramble to make up excuses to his co-worker Haque (Sai Somboon) for why he can’t come out drinking and drags a suitcase everywhere. And yet at the same time, the second-hand suit he wears to his job at Bank of America signals to the homeless man on the subway (Doug Rossi) that he is an asshole for not giving him any money.
All of this could have the potential to descend into melodrama, but Quinana’s script and David Mendizábal’s direction zero in on the ferocity of the characters’ pain while never sentimentalizing it. (more…)
There’s a new pizza place in Astoria that definitely deserves your attention. The Long Island City pizza joint sLICe has opened up a second location on 30th Avenue in Astoria, and it is a much welcomed addition to the already great pizza scene. The inside of sLICe is very warm and welcoming. Its bright white interior meshes well with its red chairs and signs. Almost a mozzarella and sauce combination of color. New hip-hop was playing quietly from the speakers, and gave the interior a fun and loose vibe. There are five two-person tables to sit down and devour whichever pizza option you choose. And there are quite a number of options. I was given the opportunity to try five different slices, and it was very hard to choose a favorite.
I first bit into the classic Margherita slice. The cheese and sauce were perfectly portioned, and the fresh basil added the always delicious kick. The crust they use also has a very nice garlic taste to it. Usually when I get a Margherita slice somewhere, it hardly has any garlic flavor whatsoever. This was a nice change. I loved it.
Next up, I tried a classic NY slice. Again, the cheese and sauce ratio was great, and it was nicely crunchy on the bottom, yet still perfectly foldable. The perfect slice on the go.
I then tried the white ricotta slice. It wasn’t flavored with too much garlic, so I actually tasted the ricotta and cheese a lot more than some other white pies I’ve had. Definitely a good choice if you’re tired of the ol’ tomato sauce pizza.
The Sicilian slice was a mouthful. The crust is pre-baked, then topped with sauce and cheese, and then cooked again to make it even crispier. It was a little too doughy for me, but still absolutely delicious. It was nice that I could see the top of the dough was brown, so you could definitely tell that it had really been baked for the first time without any sauce or cheese on it.
My favorite slice was probably the grandma slice. It has the plum cherry tomato sauce that comes on the Margherita, but shape-wise, it’s like a smaller, thinner Sicilian slice. It was the perfect combination of the sauce, cheese, and dough. It had a perfectly crisp bottom, and a buttery crust that I absolutely loved.
The other options at sLICe include a great looking pepperoni slice, and even mini-calzones. They also have a large menu of subs and entrées. I look forward to going back to sLICe and trying a little bit of everything. Although it’ll be hard not to get at least one grandma slice every time I go back.
Mission to (dit)Mars, a Queens theatre group, kicked off this year’s Launch Pad reading series with The Worst Mother in the World, a new play by Kari Bentley-Quinn. There are three characters in the play: Nina, a new mother with severe anxiety and postpartum depression; Bonnie, Nina’s therapist; and Mary, Bonnie’s daughter. The play explores the relationships between therapist and patient, mother and daughter, and two strangers who become friends. Especially interesting is the mother-daughter dynamic between Bonnie and Mary, who have a complicated and difficult relationship.
I could certainly see the scenes unfolding in my head, and hope that it will be able to be performed on stage soon. Good luck to Bentley-Quinn.
About the Launch Pad Reading Series
The Launch Pad is a free reading series of new plays by Queens playwrights. The mission objective of The Launch Pad is to serve as a testing ground for Queens based playwrights who need to hear their plays out loud. Because Mission to (dit)Mars was co-founded by playwrights and directors, we understand implicitly how to answer those needs. Through this program, the utmost care is taken to foster a safe and productive environment in order to propel the play forward.
The Broom Tree Theater is located at
Astoria First Presbyterian
Astoria, NY 11106
Now that the election is behind us, let’s turn to something more positive: our favorite things of Astoria! The BOAST: Best of Astoria survey (November 2016) is now live, and here is the link. There are three pages on the survey: one for EAT, one for DRINK, and one for DO & SEE. There are also boxes for short write-ups in each category, and we would appreciate if you did those. You may even see your writing on the site! At the end of the survey, you can enter your email for a chance to win a prize to a local business.
The survey closes on November 30, so be sure to fill it out before then. Do you know people in Astoria who may not know about BOAST? You can forward them the link to the survey. If you want to see the current BOAST winners, here are the pages for EAT, DRINK, and DO & SEE.
Thanks in advance for participating! You, the people who take the surveys, are what make content of the site possible.
The next BOAST: Best of Astoria survey will be released soon! What categories would you like to see on the next survey? Anything else you’d like to see on the site? Reply in a comment, on the Contact page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
We’re giving away two tickets to a show of Evensong at APAC (Astoria Performing Arts Center). It runs November 5-19, and you can see more information on the post below. The first person to respond gets the tickets, either by commenting on this post, using the Contact form, or emailing email@example.com.
Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) kicks off its 16th season with the world premiere of Evensong. Evensong traces the story of Teofilo “Teo” Aguilar (played by Daniel Prado), a young Mexican-American gay man and member of New York City’s working homeless population. A Texas transplant with big dreams, Teo works as a bank teller, goes on mediocre online dates, and searches for stability and human connection while navigating the tangled shelter system. Using structural elements of choral music and conventions of theatrical magic, Evensong is a tale of survival, growth, and faith in moments of loneliness and solitude. A shorter version of Evensong was featured in INTAR’s American Nightcap Series in 2014. The full-length play was featured on HowlRound and the Latina/o Theatre Commons’ Presente: A Roll Call of New Latina/o Plays last summer. The 90-minute production at Astoria Performing Arts Center marks the play’s world premiere.
Astoria Performing Arts Center presents EVENSONG – A New Play
Written by Christina Quintana
Directed by David Mendizábal
November 3 – 19, 2016 (Opening Night: Saturday, November 5th at 8 p.m.)
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. | Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Evensong runs November 3 – 19 at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
30-44 Crescent St (at 30th Road)
Astoria, NY 11102
Tickets on sale now: $18 for adults ($12 for students and senior citizens) tickets may also be purchased in person at the box office ½ hour prior to each performance.
We are giving away two tickets to the funny and entertaining show What Are You Afraid Of? hosted by Mara Wilson at Q.E.D. on Thursday, Oct. 27, 7:30-9pm. You can comment on this post, on the event post here, or you can write to us using the Contact form. So many ways to win! First to respond gets the tickets.
Did you know there’s a resident theatre group in Astoria, Queens? Ophelia Theatre Group (OTG) has been around for thirteen years, first in California and then in New York, producing sketch comedy, immersive theatre, Shakespeare and even full-length musicals. And as more and more actors move to Astoria, earning the area the nickname “Actoria,” Ophelia Theatre Group has become an artistic home for many. OTG even run a theatre gym on Monday nights where directors, actors, and playwrights can bring in material to workshop in a supportive and judgment-free zone. There’s also a Monday night reading series where actors work on a play for one day and present it to the public for free.
So you get the idea. OTG is a very active community that constantly produces and provides opportunities to get involved. The cool thing about OTG this season specifically is the investment in female talent. OTG, originally founded by Californian Sarah Bennett, has always featured strong women, but this season marks a concerted effort to go above and beyond.
This season at OTG includes twists on classic literature, all adapted by women. The next production on the slate is the classic play Hedda Gabler, written by Henrik Ibsen and adapted and directed by Kelly McCready. The production also boasts an all female design team and crew. The adaptation itself is also a little unusual, clocking in at an electric 80 minutes with no intermission and featuring only five cast members. “Everything about the adaptation is condensed and immediate, but each character is still fully formed and complicated in their own way. It’s just much more arresting,” says McCready. (more…)
Blink Fitness, the premium-quality, value-based gym with locations in Queens, announced today the launch of a brand-wide casting call for the company’s 2017 ad campaign. As part of Blink’s continued efforts to challenge the fitness industry’s norms and advocate for body positivity, the company is inviting its members to “audition” via social media from September 12 to October 7. Over 300 people have already submitted since launch.
Blink’s nearly 300,000 members are eligible to audition for the casting call by submitting a photo or video on Instagram that flaunts confidence and explains why they should be chosen. (See below for additional details)*
Following the submissions, the finalists will be chosen and called back to stand in front of a panel of influential “casting agents” to explain why feeling good is the new looking good. Panelists will include Dascha Polanco, known for her role as Dayanara Diaz on Orange is the New Black and NFL punter, Steve Weatherford.
Blink’s 2017 campaign is an evolution of its “Every Body Happy” platform, which launched earlier this year. The initiative highlighted a variety of confident and happy gym-goers of all shapes and sizes. The campaign continues to support and expand upon the brand’s unique philosophy, Mood Above Muscle™ that celebrates the positive feeling you get from exercise, not just the physical benefits.
*Who can participate? Current Blink members can audition for the casting call by submitting a photo or video on Instagram that flaunts their confidence and tells Blink why they should be chosen while tagging #BlinkCastingCall and @Blink_Fitness. This is the first time a gym has cast for an ad campaign through social media. The casting call will run from September 12, 2016 to October 7, 2016.
How are you feeling about the subway situation in Astoria from 1 (it's cool) to 5 (burning with rage)?