This past year has been challenging for everyone, especially the theater community. Due to many extenuating factors, the co-founders of Mission to (dit)Mars – Kari Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer, and Laura Pestronk – came to a difficult but necessary decision, which is to formally wind down the company after nine amazing years.
We started Mission to (dit)Mars in 2012, as four artists who wanted to build a new and unique theater community in the great borough of Queens. We started off with the Propulsion Lab writers group, which invited Queens-based playwrights to write a brand new play over the course of a season.
Playwrights in the Propulsion Lab included: Jack McCarthy, Corinna Schulenberg, Courtney Lauria, Jane Miller, Jennifer Lane, Kristine M. Reyes, Mac Rogers, David Lawson, Lisa Huberman, Jonathan Alexandratos, Tyler Rivenbark, Tori Keenan-Zelt, Mrinalini Kamath, Christopher Moncayo-Torres, Tim Errickson, Nat Cassidy, Ray Yamanouchi, Sasha Sharova, Megan Bussiere, Jason Tseng, Enrique Urueta, Amy E. Witting, Elizabeth Seldin, and Scott Casper. Through the lab, we oversaw the development of more than 35 new plays. We were able to present these brand new plays with our Launchpad Reading Series, which was the first public presentation of plays that went on to win numerous awards and productions. We worked with directors such as Kristin McCarthy Parker, Jordana Williams, Colette Robert, Dev Bondarin, and Christopher Diercksen.
Through our annual All Systems Go – a reading of excerpts from all the plays written in Lab that season – we fostered relationships with over 100 actors. We also hosted a Mindful Writing workshop in the summers with Emily Herzlin, and we initiated the Salon Series, which was a next step dramaturgical program for plays written in Lab. We hosted two retreats in a partnership with Queens Theater, presented All Systems Go at Astoria Performing Arts Center, and were in residence at The Secret Theater, the Chain Theater, and the Broom Tree Theater. Countless professional and personal relationships were born in this company.
While Mission to (dit)Mars as a company might be winding down, the community that we have built remains. We are confident that the relationships and creative partnerships that we built will continue to grow and flourish. This is not a goodbye – the resources on our website will still be available for the next year – and we will always be a part of this incredible group of artists. We hope that theater artists in Queens can pick up where we left off and build something brand new, when we can all be in the same space again. We will see you again – hopefully soon – right here in Queens.