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Kari Bentley-Quinn

Kari Bentley-Quinn
Kari Bentley-Quinn

Neighborhood: Astoria/Woodside
Website: http://kbquinn.wordpress.com/

Kari Bentley-Quinn is a playwright based in New York City, originally from the little coast town of Stratford, CT. Her plays have been presented at or developed with Lark Play Development Center, The Brick Theater, The Secret Theatre, Artemisia Theater, The One Minute Play Festival,  Lesser America, Caps Lock Theater, Effable Arts,  Packawallop Productions,  The Access Theater, FringeNYC, the Play Development Collective, and more.

Kari’s full length plays include The Permanent Night (2008 FringeNYC award winner), Paper Cranes (Packawallop Productions),The Unlikely Ascent of Sybil Stevens (The Secret Theatre New Voices Project), The Ocean Thought Nothing (2014 O’Neill Conference Finalist), Prepared(PlayPenn semi finalist) and The Worst Mother in the World.

Kari has been a finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, The Playwrights Realm, and the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, as well as being a nominee for the Doric Wilson Playwriting Award. Kari has an MFA in Playwriting from Hunter College, where she studied with Tina Howe, Arthur Kopit, and Mark Bly. At Hunter, she was the 2015 recipient of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Playwriting Award. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Don Nguyen

Don Nguyen
Don Nguyen

Neighborhood: Long Island City
Website: thenuge.com and sadplaywright.com

Don Nguyen was born in Saigon, Vietnam, grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and currently resides in Astoria, Queens. Don studied theatre at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and he served as the Artistic Director of the Shelterbelt Theatre in Omaha from 1999-2003.

Full length plays include: RED FLAMBOYANT (World Premiere – Firebone Theatre Company 2015, 2015 GAP Prize Winner, Ojai Playwrights Conference, finalist – O’Neill NPC), SOUND (Azeotrope/ACT, BAPF,  Playwrights Realm Fellowship, finalist – Princess Grace Award), THE COMMENCEMENT OF WILLIAM TAN (Yale Cabaret, NYSAF), THE MAN FROM SAIGON (NYSAF, Naked Angels), THE SUPREME LEADER and HELLO, FROM THE CHILDREN OF PLANET EARTH.  Don’s work has been developed or produced at The Public Theater, The Flea, Ojai Playwrights Conference, New York Stage & Film, Naked Angels, Naked Radio, The Civilians, Ma-Yi Theatre, The Playwrights Realm, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Joe’s Pub, The 52nd Street Project, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Tofte Lake.  Don is the recipient of the 2015 GAP Prize from the Aurora Theatre and New York Stage & Film Founder’s award and has been a finalist for The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, The Princess Grace Award, Woodward International Playwriting Prize, and New Dramatists.  Nominations include: the Laurents/Hatcher award and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award.  Don is a proud member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group, The Civilians inaugural R&D Group, the 52nd Street Project, and a co-founder of Mission to (dit)Mars, a Queens based theatre arts collective.  For more information, please visit: thenuge.com

His one-act play The Harlequin Maneuvre was a finalist in the Riant Theatre’s Strawberry One-Act Festival (2004) and was published in The Best of The Strawberry One-Act Festival, Volume 1. It has subsequently been produced in New York, Nebraska, and Canada.

Other one act plays include Fat Ugly Vampire (Nuyorican Poets Cafe, NY), The Imaginary Association of Flight Attendants (Nuyorican Poets Cafe, NY),Love 160 (The Pack Lounge Series 3, Robert Moss Theater, NY),The Dragon Lord and the Fairy Queen (commissioned by The Lincoln Community Playhouse), A Decision of Extraordinary Magnitude, and a collection of eight Halloween plays: Bloodsucker, The Woman in the Blue Dress, Iron Chef: Battle of the Global Cuisine, Cooking with Julia, Soulmates, Torture, Survivor Down Under, and The Deadly Seduction, which were all produced by The Shelterbelt Theatre.

Other short plays and monologues include The Rocket Boys (52nd Street Project), Sexual Chocolate (The Secret Theatre, Long Island City), Girl Reflected and Look, A Lion (Emerging Writers Retreat, Public Theater).

Other writing credits include The Living Newspaper Workshop where he wrote several one acts and a webisode.  In July 2011, The Living Newspaper was invited by Liz Engelman and the Jerome Foundation to spend a weeklong residency at Tofte Lake Center in Minnesota to develop a play about overpopulation.

Don spent a week at a writers retreat at the Vineyard Arts Project in the summer of 2010, where he developed The Imaginary Association of Flight Attendants and The Man from Saigon.

Don is a member of the New York Public Theater’s 2008 Inaugural Emerging Writers GroupThe Civilians R & D Group and the Ma-Yi Writers Lab.  He frequently volunteers at The 52nd Street Project.  Don is also the creator of sadplaywright.com, an online photo gallery of his sad playwright friends.

Click here to view my list of plays.

Meredith Packer

Meredtih Packer
Meredtih Packer

Neighborhood: Astoria

Meredith Packer is a New England transplant who graduated with a BA in Theater from Wagner College in 2005. In 2006, she co-founded Amsterdam Artists, LTD with whom she helped produce & direct two successful productions before parting ways in 2008. She has also produced and directed with the Effable Arts, LTD. She has had brief stints with NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice and with the technical team at New World Stages and AML entertainment. While an artistic nomad, she has made a home in Astoria for the last 5 years.

Laura Pestronk

Neighborhood: Sunnyside

Laura Pestronk is an actor and director born and raised in New York City. She has lived all over Manhattan and grew up on the Upper East Side. She has since enjoyed living in both Astoria and Long Island City, and now happily resides in beautiful Sunnyside, Queens.

 Laura’s directing credits include Feedback by Jane Miller (Squeaky Bicycle Productions), Booze In the Boroughs by Penny Jackson (FACT), 200 Mystical Fictions by Debra Siegel (NY Fringe), Opening Night by Zach Rothman-Hicks (Where Eagles Dare), Jump! by Josh Sohn (Strawberry Festival- Best Play),  Unblessed by Kari Bentley Quinn (Packawallop).  Assistant directing credits include Marea(Packawallop- dir. Scott Ebersold) and Cardboard Box (Looking Glass- dir. Toby Bercovici).

Acting credits include The Tupperware Convention by Anna Governali , The Women’s Project by Mariana Newhard, Retrospective by Chris Van Strander,  Notes Between Us by Samantha Lee Manas, Kicked by Eljon Wardally. Laura’s one woman show, Interesting Topics In Significant Similitude Starring Cindy Cinnamon performed at Downtown Art and NYU. 

For the past 3 years, Laura has directed Broadway charity concerts raising money for the Humane Society and the Canned Food Drive. Both the annual Broadway Meows and Broadway Can concerts are written and composed by Seth Bisen-Hersh and perform at Don’t Tell Mama.

Laura received her BFA in Drama and Psychology from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She studied at Playwrights Horizons Theater School, concentrating in directing and acting. Laura is coordinator and member of the Pack- a collaborative group of writers, directors and actors. She is a founding member of Mission to ditMARS, a theater and arts collective based in Queens.

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Our mission is to provide Queens-based theater artists with a home for new play development, as well as to serve the residents of the borough by providing free or low-cost theatrical events. We believe strongly in developing a network of artists through cultivating local talent, and by fostering collaborations and relationships through developmental labs, classes, and social events. We believe that Queens is a premier destination for the arts in New York City, and we hope to highlight the rich community of diverse, talented, and underrepresented voices in the borough.

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It all started one cold February day in 2011.  Our first meeting was at Sweet Afton (an Astoria fave), where we chugged IPAs and stuffed our mouths with fried pickles, all while dreaming up a way to bring local Queens artists together.  We tossed around lots of ideas; some great, some crazy ambitious, and some just crazy.  We shared frustrations on how everything theatre-wise seemed to be happening in Manhattan and Brooklyn and we felt it was about time for the artists in Queens to stand up and unite.

Since that first meeting, we’ve had several more.   Every meeting involved lots of planning and lots of booze.

Now we’re finally here.  On August 15, 2012, we’ll be having our first mixer/kickoff celebration at the Alewife.  We’re thrilled to have finally arrived at this stage, and we’re equally thrilled to see (with your help) what we come up next.