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.

Kristine M. Reyes
Kristine M. Reyes – Taken under the Hell Gate Bridge in Astoria Park

TitleOccupation
Playwright. I’m an associate artist at Diverse City Theater Company and a company member at Leviathan Lab.

Where were you born?
Born in Manila, Philippines, but raised in NYC since the age of seven.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I moved to Astoria three and a half years ago, when I got married. The joke was, it must be true love for a native Manhattanite to move to Queens. No dig against Queens, of course, but New Yorkers are very borough/neighborhood-proud.

How did you get involved in theater?
Theater was something in my life from a young age because my mom is a great admirer of the performing arts; she would take me to shows as a kid – everything from Broadway to shows in little run-down theaters. My elementary school (shout-out to P.S. 41!) also had a strong arts program, so I vividly remember chorus class and putting on our 6th grade production of 42nd Street (I was a chorus girl) with our music teacher Rayme.

So theater was always something I enjoyed, but more as an audience member than as a participant. I think I’m one of those rare playwrights who didn’t start out as an actor, but I’ve wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. It didn’t occur to me to try my hand at writing plays until college. It was a screenwriting class that eventually led to playwriting, actually. I realized that all I wanted to do was focus on the characters and write dialogue between them. Something clicked, like an “a-ha” moment, and it’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Tell us about the play you’re working on in the Propulsion Lab?
It’s currently untitled and I’m still figuring things out as I write, but the play is about a conservative Asian-American woman who’s in her first relationship with a woman. She’s still very much in the closet, so it’s about how she navigates that double life and tries to maintain balance in all her relationships.

What do you love most about Queens?
I love that Queens is the most diverse borough in New York City – we’ve got people from all over the world who’ve settled down and created their lives here. It’s a microcosm of the microcosm that is NYC – but more affordable and less pretentious.

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
It’s not so much a moment, but getting off the 7 train and stepping out onto Main Street in Flushing’s Chinatown gives me that feeling. I don’t know if there’s any other ethnic neighborhood in America where you feel like you’ve been transported to that country – the signs are in Chinese, the majority of the people walking around are Chinese, you hear people speaking Chinese – you really feel like you’re in, well, China. Manhattan’s Chinatown is such a tourist attraction, so it has a different vibe. But Flushing’s Chinatown feels like an “only in Queens” place to me.

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

Café Triskell is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, period. My husband and I love going there on date nights because it’s cozy, the food is excellent, it’s affordable, and the chef/owner and his wife are really nice. Another favorite is Sanford’s – it’s upscale American food at diner prices, and it’s open 24-hours. We also love that ramen has made its way to Astoria – Hinomaru is near us and, in my opinion, rivals most of the ramen joints in Manhattan.
My favorite places in Queens are Astoria Park (lovely grassy knoll with a great view of the water, plus 4th of July fireworks); The Museum of the Moving Image (great exhibits and movies for any film buff at any age); Gantry State Plaza (beautiful view of Manhattan); The Queens Museum (the Panorama of the City of New York is a must-see); and the Unisphere (it’s an icon!).

Current/Upcoming projects?
I’ve been developing a full-length play called Stage/Mother that I hope to have a reading of later this year. I’m also in the very early stages of working on some non-theater writing projects that I’m really excited about, but can’t discuss yet (ooh intriguing!).In the meantime, you can check out my website for updates and information about my plays: kristinemreyes.com

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