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A lot can happen in a year, especially in Queens.  Here’s a look back at what we accomplished in 2013:

February 2013

We created The Propulsion Lab Writers Group and announced our inaugural group of writers (Jennifer Lane, Jane Miller, August Schulenburg, Mariah MacCarthy, Courtney Lauria, Kari Bentley-Quinn and Don Nguyen).
(clockwise: Courtney Lauria, Jenny Lane, Mariah MacCarthy, August Schulenburg, Kari Bentely-Quinn, Don Nguyen, and Jane Miller))
(clockwise: Courtney Lauria, Jenny Lane, Mariah MacCarthy, August Schulenburg, Kari Bentely-Quinn, Don Nguyen, and Jane Miller))

April 2013

We continued our Launch Pad Reading Series featuring the brand new play Bridges and Boundaries  by Courtney Lauria!
Also in April, the amazing We Heart Astoria blog named Mission to (dit)Mars one of the finalists in their annual The Best of Astoria Readers Poll!

May 2013

If you know Mission to (dit)Mars, then you know we love hosting mixers!  In May we held our Spring Fling Mixer at Open Door Restaurant in Long Island City.

June 2013

We followed that up in June with an evening of excerpts from our Propulsion Lab Group (All Systems Go!)

Summer 2013

We didn’t take a break over the summer.  Instead, we launched a summer Mindful Writing Workshop led by Emily Herzlin that took you all over Queens, starting at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, on the subway (N/Q Train!) and concluded at Martha’s Bakery on Ditmars!  Mission Accomplished!

August 2013

In August we added four new members to the Propulsion Lab (Lisa Huberman, David Lawson, Kristine Reyes, and Tyler Rivenbark).
New Propulsion lab members

October 2013

We wrapped up our Launch Pad Reading Series with a brand new play The Fields of Blue and Glow by August Schulenburg, continuing our mission of not only championing new plays, but also exploring all parts of Queens by presenting the reading in the beautiful carriage house at LIC Bar.

August – December 2013

The Propulsion Lab kept busy throughout the fall working on brand new plays!  We also found time to take a field trip to The Public Theater!
Kevin Christopher Snipes, Public Theater Literary Assistant (who lives in Woodside) hosted a meet and greet with the Propulsion Lab members
Kevin Christopher Snipes, Public Theater Literary Assistant (who lives in Woodside) hosted a meet and greet with the Propulsion Lab members!

You in 2013!

And last but certainly not least, we were proud to feature 23 new Queens artists on our website throughout the year!  You can read up on all of our featured artists here.

Mission to (dit)Mars was created by four people who love Queens and it has been sustained throughout the year by all of you.  Thank you so much for making 2013 such a productive and artistically rewarding year for us.  We couldn’t have done it without you!  We’ve managed to accomplish all of this with very little money.  If you’d like to support us, click here to find out the best way to do so!

Happy New Year and see you in 2014 in Queens!

The Mission to (dit)Mars Team

Kari Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer and Laura Pestronk

Mission to (dit)Mars, a theatre arts collective serving Queens artists, presents the fourth in a series of free play readings as part of the 2013/2014 LAUNCH PAD Reading Series.

THE FIELDS OF BLUE AND GLOW, a new play by August Schulenburg will be directed by Heather Cohn and features David Shih and Jordan Mahome.

The play follows Jon, a wildly successful author of horror fiction, called (to his dismay) the “Asian American Stephen King”. One dark and stormy night, Jon’s friend Daryn, who disappeared for a few years, comes knocking on his door. The Fields of Blue and Glow is a ghost story which tackles the themes of childhood, growing up, and the power of crossing over into something new.

This free play reading will be held at LIC Bar in the Carriage House located at 45-58 Vernon Blvd in Long Island City on +Tuesday, October 29th +at 7pm.

To attend the free reading, please make a reservation on our website:


45-58 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City

E, M, G to Court Sq.

7 to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave or Court Sq.

N, Q to Queensboro Plaza

New Propulsion lab members

Mission to (dit)Mars, a theatre arts collective serving Queens artists, is excited to announce the selection of four new members to The Propulsion Lab, Queens’ newest writers group serving emerging playwrights from the borough. 

 The four new members are Lisa Huberman (Woodside), David Lawson (Astoria), Kristine M. Reyes (Astoria) and Tyler Rivenbark (Sunnyside).  Along with current members of the Propulsion Lab, each playwright will focus on writing a new full-length play over the course of the year.  The new members were selected by Mission to (dit)Mars co-founders Kari-Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer and Laura Pestronk.  The writers group meets bi-weekly in Queens and is facilitated by Kari Bentley-Quinn and Don Nguyen.

On what excites her about the four new members, Meredith Packer explains “I was so excited by not just the high level of work they submitted to us, but how incredibly different each of the writers are in their approach, styles and voice.  I thought that combination of diversity and work would be great to get to the table.”  Kari Bentley-Quinn adds “I think the most exciting thing for us was finding four voices that are all very different from each other.”

 “The plays that caught my attention were the ones that were both well-written and moving,” said Laura Pestronk, explaining how the members were selected.  “I was looking for a firm grip on style that caused me to feel something and hopefully either shake me inside or make me laugh out loud or both.”

 The Propulsion Lab was created to meet the needs of like-minded theater artists who wanted to have a way of developing new work locally in Queens on an on-going basis.  “The first year we did this Lab, we had such an extraordinary response to it. The writers were really happy, and our end of the year presentation ALL SYSTEMS GO! was a sold out house” said Kari Bentley-Quinn.

 The four new playwrights will be joining current members of the Propulsion Lab: Kari Bentley-Quinn (Astoria/Woodside), Courtney Lauria (Astoria), Mariah MacCarthy (Astoria), Don Nguyen (Long Island City), and August Schulenburg (Astoria).

For more information and bios of each of the Propulsion Lab members past and present, please visit this link.


Lisa Huberman (Woodside)

Lisa’s work includes Egyptology (developed under the mentorship of Lee Blessing and a nominee for a National New Play Network award), Under the Rainbow (Regional Winner in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Finalist for the John Cauble Short Play Award), Health Nuts (Semi-Finalist for the Little Fish Theatre Pick of the Vine Competition, produced by the Panic Room Playwrights), Life Play (Secret Theatre’s Act One: One Act Festival), Sub-Prime (KNOW Theatre Playwrights and Artists Festival), High and Uptight (Mile Square Theatre’s 7th Inning Stretch Festival) and Heart/Succor (La Petite Morgue’s inaugural Fresh Blood Series).  She has participated in the One Minute Play Festival, Pussyfest, and Monologues and Madness.  Under the Rainbow, High and Uptight, and Egyptology are available for purchase and download at The Monologues Database.  A member of The Dramatists Guild, Drawing Board, The Panic Room Playwrights, Lisa is also an Artistic Associate for La Petite Morgue.  She has attended playwriting workshops at Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive and Chicago Dramatists.  She received her BA in Theatre Performance from Bradley University and her MFA in Playwriting from Rutgers University, where she currently teaches freshman composition.  Lisa was raised by vegetarians in Ohio and also maintains the food blog, Sometimes A Vegan.  Website:

David Lawson (Astoria)

Lawson’s plays have been produced at/by The Brick Theater, Dixon Place, IRT Theatre, the Secret Theatre, the Downtown Urban Theater Festival (at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center), The FRIGID New York Festival (at UNDER St. Marks), The Dream Up Festival (at Theater for the New City), Alchemical Theatre Laboratory, the Brooklyn LaunchPad and The Parkside Lounge. Lawson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Emerson College (MA) and studied at the O’Neill National Theater Institute (CT). Lawson is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild of America and the League of Independent Theatre of New York.  Website:

Kristine M. Reyes (Astoria)

Kristine M. Reyes is a playwright raised and based in New York City. Her plays include the full-length Queen for a Day(Diverse City Theater Company’s First Draft Fellowship); one-acts Quarter Century BabySomething Blue (both produced at Diverse City Theater Company) and Lola Luning’s First Steps (commissioned and produced by Women of Color Productions); and the ten-minute pieces Balikbayan Birthday (Leviathan Lab) and Ready, Aim…Fire! (ESPA at Primary Stages; published on Indie Theater Now).  Kristine is a Playwright Associate at Diverse City Theater Company, and a founding member and former co-director of the Leviathan Lab Asian American Women Writers Workshop. She was a 2012 Mary Louise Rockwell Scholar at The Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA) at Primary Stages, and has also studied at Ensemble Studio Theatre. She is a member of The Dramatists Guild.

Tyler Rivenbark (Sunnyside)

Tyler Rivenbark was born and raised in Warsaw, North Carolina, and is now based out of Sunnyside, NY. He is a graduate of the Queens College, CUNY, MFA program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation with a focus in Playwriting.  Select plays include Monosyllabic (Mellow Pages), (Silence) (Dixon Place and Artists’ Bloc), Inside the Rain (Dixon Place), Frogs; or How to Fail at Business (Left Hip), How they Played Games and Fell in Love (Abingdon Theatre) and Joe (Short Play Lab). In 2012 he received a commission from the Poetry Society of America to adapt Rita Dove’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Thomas and Beulah for the stage. In 2011 he founded the Oh, Bernice! reading series in Queens. He was a 2009 writer-in-residency at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, a residency he now oversees. He is currently an English professor at Queens College, CUNY. He is also a member of the Dramatist Guild. And when not making theatre, he can be found around the city making music.




An Evening of Excerpts from the Propulsion Lab Plays

By Kari Bentley-Quinn, Jennifer Lane, Courtney Lauria, Mariah MacCarthy, Jane Miller, Don Nguyen, and August Schulenberg

Directed by Christopher Diercksen, Dev Bondarin and Don Nguyen

Featuring Samantha Rosentrater, Shaun Fauntleroy, Natalie Kim, Katrina Day, Samantha Walsh, Stuart Luth, Gus Schulenburg, Jason Liebman, Alexandra O’Daly, Sol Marina Crespo, Curry Whitmire and David Shih.

Our seven members of the Propulsion lab writers group have been hard at work on their new plays and they’re excited to share some excerpts with you.

June 24, 2013 @7pm

The Chain Theatre
21-28 45th Rd, Long Island City
E, M, G to Court Sq.
7 to Court Sq.
N, Q to Queensboro Plaza

The event is free.

A reception will be held in the lobby of the Chain Theatre immediately following the reading.  Please join us for complimentary wine.  Beer and snacks can also be purchased.

View photos from All Systems Go!


Join Mission to (dit)Mars this summer for a 3-part, interactive mindfulness and writing workshop designed specially for Queens-based writers and artists to gain inspiration from our own neighborhood.

Mindfulness and Creative Writing teacher Emily Herzlin will lead the class in walking meditation, mindfulness on the subway, mindful eating, and writing prompts to enrich our creative experience as well as our experience of Queens.

We’ll start off with our first workshop in Gantry Plaza State Park, travel in our second workshop along the NQ train line and write (yes, on the subway!) and end our writing mission in—where else?—Ditmars, for mindful eating and food writing at Martha’s Country Bakery.

$5-$10 suggested donation for each class. Attend just one, two, or all three. Stay tuned for more specific descriptions of each class, and instructions regarding where to meet up.

No experience with mindfulness necessary. Writers of all genres welcome.



Sunday, June 16th, 12-2pm (rain location TBA)

7 train to Vernon-Jackson, walk to the East River.

In Part I of our summer writing workshop series we’ll explore the waterfront at Gantry Plaza State Park. On the agenda: sense perception awareness exercises, walking meditation, writing prompts, sharing writing aloud (optional,) and more.

Writers of all genres welcome. No experience with meditation necessary.

Meet promptly at noon at the Gantries between 49th/50th Ave. and Center Blvd. From there we will depart as a group to another location. (Try to arrive at the meeting place a little early, around 11:45am.)  Here are some points of interest at Gantry State Park.

Bring paper and something to write with.

In case of rain, we will meet at a location tba, and an email will be sent to those who RSVP in advance. You can check our Facebook page for updates, too.

NOTE: it is not necessary to RSVP, but helpful for us to get a head count.


Sunday, August 11th, 2-4pm

In Part II of our summer writing workshop series we’ll investigate our joyful, wretched, bored, exhausted, amusing, richly complicated relationship to the NYC subway. On the agenda: basic introduction to mindfulness, journal prompts, awareness exercises and subway writing prompts, personal writing time, and sharing writing aloud.

Meet promptly at 2pm at Packard Square Café, 41-43 Crescent St, near Queensboro Plaza. We will meet there briefly for introductions and instructions. (They have a small outdoor seating area out back, where we will be if weather permits. Otherwise we will meet inside.) From there we will board the train at Queensboro Plaza. More instructions will be given on the day of the workshop.

Bring paper and something to write with.

NQ Train to Queensboro Plaza.

Note: It is not necessary to RSVP, but helpful for us to get a head count.

PART III—MARTHA’S COUNTY BAKERY (Ditmars): Sunday, August 25th, 3-5pm

In the grand finale of our summer writing workshop series we’ll indulge–mindfully–and practice mindful eating and write about food at the Astoria favorite, Martha’s Country Bakery. On the agenda: basic introduction to mindfulness, food-based writing prompts, sense perception exercises, discussion and sharing writing aloud, and, of course, dessert.

Meet promptly at  3pm at Martha’s Country Bakery. We’ll most likely be inside at a table, but if it’s crowded we will get a table outside. If it’s REALLY crowded we will gather at Martha’s, get our pastries, and walk to Astoria Park for the workshop.

Bring paper and something to write with, and enough cash for a pastry or two plus tip.

N/Q Train to Ditmars

Martha’s Country Bakery
3621 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105
$5-$10 suggested donation

Note: It is not necessary to RSVP, but VERY helpful for us to get a head count to secure enough seating.
Any questions, feel free to email

Please RSVP below:


At the tender age of twelve, Emily decided she would grow up to be the female Frank Rich and get paid to write about theater for a living. But then, in a summer writing workshop at Young Playwrights Inc. just before she made the arduous journey from Long Island to NYU, she discovered what it means to write a play. After studying different flavors of writing at Columbia and Naropa Universities, these days Emily mostly writes creative nonfiction and poetry (publications include USA Today, The Millions, The Women’s International Perspective, and more.) She has folded mindfulness meditation into her creative life to tackle the writing roadblocks that inevitably pop up, and to broaden her awareness in order to excavate more material to write about. Emily is training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at UMass Medical School this summer, and has taught meditation and creative writing for the past two years at Columbia University, The Interdependence Project, The New School, and GreenspaceNYC. Check out her writing and other upcoming classes at or follow her on Twitter: @emilyherzlin.

(Emily’s love affair with Astoria has been the kind of thing where you’re tentative at first, but then you let go and fall hard, and then you discover all the things that annoy you about each other, but you deeply love each other anyway and can’t stop eating at bakeries.)


By Courtney Lauria

Directed by Tamara Fisch

Featuring Emily Simoness, Samantha Rosentrater, and Eric Clem



April 1, 2013 @7pm

The Chain Theatre
21-28 45th Rd, Long Island City, NY

Click here for reservations

In a brick house in Astoria, Queens, shadowed by the RFK bridge, a young woman is sorting her emotions. In jars. Literally. Claire’s phobias have gotten the best of her for long enough, and the way she is living doesn’t feel like living at all.  Bridges and Boundaries charts Claire’s quest to overcome her road blocks, and create a future she actually wants to feel.  This crafted tale explores love, trust, and issues that aren’t just water under the bridge.

Introducing The Propulsion Lab

Mission to (dit)Mars, a theatre arts collective serving Queens artists, announces a new writers group serving emerging playwrights from the borough.

With the creation of the Launch Pad Reading Series and its mission of propelling plays forward, we have created a second key component to our mission, which is The Propulsion Lab!

The Propulsion Lab is a monthly writers group made up of Queens based playwrights.  The writers group will be curated and facilitated by Mission to (dit)Mars co-founders Kari Bentley-Quinn and Don Nguyen.

Don Nguyen explains “When we asked the vibrant theatre arts community in Queens what we could do to best serve their needs, the most popular response was a writers group.  Because Kari and I are both playwrights and have been or belong to many writers groups, it made sense to launch one.”
Regarding the inaugural members of the Propulsion Lab, Kari Bentley-Quinn adds “In my experience as a theater artist, I find that amazing work is generated when you get talented, smart and generous people in a room together. I do not think we could have put together a much better group of talented, smart and generous writers. I am excited beyond measure to see what will come out of this lab and what it will bring to the larger Queens artistic community.”

The inaugural members of the  Propulsion Lab are: Kari Bentley-Quinn (Astoria/Woodside), Jenny Lane (Astoria), Courtney Lauria (Astoria), Mariah MacCarthy (Astoria), Jane Miller (Sunnyside), Don Nguyen (Long Island City), and August Schulenburg (Astoria).

(clockwise: Courtney Lauria, Jenny Lane, Mariah MacCarthy, August Schulenburg, Kari Bentely-Quinn, Don Nguyen, and Jane Miller))
(clockwise: Courtney Lauria, Jenny Lane, Mariah MacCarthy, August Schulenburg, Kari Bentely-Quinn, Don Nguyen, and Jane Miller))

Click here to read the writers’ bios

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Holiday-CocktailsJoin us for our second mixer – and this one is just in time for the holidays! We have some exciting announcements lined up and can’t wait to share them with you! We also just thought it would be cool to hang out, so let’s do that! This is an opportunity for you to come meet some of your fellow artists, have a few beers, and tell us all your plans for 2013.

Monday 12/17/12 at 6pm

Alewife NYC
5-14 51st Ave. – upstairs lounge
Long Island City, NY (7 Train to Vernon Jackson)
Happy Hour specials till 8 pm, snacks provided (can you say “Garlic fries”?)
There is also a Facebook invite – please go and “like” our page for all the latest updates! And please share our page so we get some more “likes”!

As with all our gatherings, keep these things in mind (we have a Suggestion Box at every event):

  • Forming a “connective tissue” of Queens based artists; a living, breathing collective for idea sharing and inspiration
  • Space sharing and space donation for people to work (theaters, church basements, apartments, etc.)
  • Ideas for meetings and groups (do you want a writers group? A monthly meeting of dancers? An improv group?)
  • Ideas for other forms of art other than theater (including dance, music, and visual art)
  • Site-specific theatrical events
  • Ideas for fun “teambuilding” events (i.e. Art-based pub crawls, more mixers, etc.)
  • Anything you want!

We hope the end of 2012 is treating you well. We can’t wait to celebrate the holidays with you!


Mission to ditMARS
Kari Bentley-Quinn
Don Nguyen
Meredith Packer
Laura Pestronk


One of the most commonly suggested ideas at our inaguaral mixer was “start a reading series of new plays”. From our subsequent meetings and discussions, The Launchpad was born. The Launchpad is going to be a series of new play readings by writers currently residing in Queens. We are really excited to be bringing new plays to the Queens community. We are doing one reading in 2012 and are still reviewing submissions for the 2013 series. Yeah! Here is the info – please SAVE THE DATE!

Mission to (dit)Mars presents…
Readings of New Plays by Queens Playwrights


A play by Jennifer Lane
Directed by Robin PatersonMonday, October 15th at 7 pmWith Ginger Grace, Jaime Lincoln, Brandon Nagle, Kendall Rileigh, Jennifer Laine Williams, and Monica WycheThe Grey family home rests on burning land, filling its rooms with poisonous gas and its gardens with rising steam. When Lumen returns to the house to convince the rest of her family to move out, she begins to unearth an array of startling family secrets that threaten to pull her back in to a life she struggled to leave behind.

The Chain Theatre

21-28 45th Rd, Long Island City
E, M, G to Court Sq.
7 to Court Sq.
N, Q to Queensboro PlazaThe event is free, but please RSVP to  Space is limited! And don’t worry, we’re going out drinking after.

Post-Launch Party Details:
9pm-ish (or how quickly your legs can take you)
The Creek and The Cave
10-93 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101

The Chain Theatre, established in 2012, is a black box events venue in Long Island City, NY. The Chain believes in providing a space for artists to produce work and hone their craft. With fully equipped performance spaces, rehearsal rooms, and reading areas, the Chain serves as a home for multi-disciplinary work.  For information on renting and/or producing at The Chain, please contact us a:

Jennifer is an Astoria-based writer from Troy, Michigan. Her work has been presented at or developed by the terraNOVA Collective, Sightline Theatre Company, Artistic New Directions, IRT, The Bridge Theatre Company, the New Ohio Theatre, 3LD Art & Technology Center, the Gene Frankel Theatre, Theatre 54, Manhattan Shakespeare Theatre, The Washington Rogues, Gorilla Tango Theatre and Columbia Stages.

Her work includes Harlowe (developed under the mentorship of Sarah Ruhl, winner of the Alec Baldwin Fellowship at Singers Forum, and a finalist for the TS Eliot US/UK Exchange); Psychomachia (recipient of the Gatsby Grant); The Seer and the Witch (developed in the Groundbreakers Playwriting Group at terraNOVA); The Would-Be Room (performed in New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C.);Convergence (premiered as part of the soloNOVA Festival); The Burning Brand; and Does Anyone Know Sarah Paisner? Her ten minute pieces A Fever in the Feast and Uriel’s Garden were both workshopped with Anne Bogart. Fever…, as well as another short play, PIN, was workshopped at Ensemble Studio Theatre in early 2011.

Currently, Jennifer is the Administrative Director for the League of Professional Theatre Women and the Literary Manager for the Astoria Performing Arts Center. MFA: Columbia University; BA: Sarah Lawrence College. For more information, please visit

Robin’s international career spans more than 150 productions. Active in the creation of new plays as a director, designer and producer, he has collaborated on more than 50 premieres. Based in New York, Robin’s work has also been featured in Berlin, Cairo, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. New York directing credits include the premiere of TWO-MAN KIDNAPPING RULE by Joseph Gallo (New Ohio Theatre); the premiere of PSYCHOMACHIA by Jenny Lane (Artistic New Directions); the premiere of STRESS POSITIONS by Daniel Sweren-Becker (SoHo Playhouse); the premiere of STAR SONG by Joseph Gallo (Artistic New Directions); the premiere of FALLOUT by Michael Blumberg (Manhattan Repertory); the premiere of WARNING: ADULT CONTENT by Joseph Gallo (Shetler Studios TDG); the American premiere of HUMANS ANONYMOUS by Kate Hewlett (Bridge Theatre Company); the premiere of ZARATHUSTRA SAID SOME THINGS, NO? by Trevor Ferguson (Infinitheatre); the premiere of MAKING MARILYN by Ken Cameron (Bridge Theatre Company); and a revival of PLUNGE by Christopher Kyle (Bridge Theatre Company). Robin is a frequent guest director at the Dramatic Writing Dept. at New York University, and is an active member of the Actors Studio Playwright-Director Workshop. Since September 2006,Robin has been the Managing Artistic Director of SHETLER STUDIOS & THEATRES. For more information please visit

Please make sure to visit our website – – there are plenty of pictures from the mixer up, and we’ve also started to populate our Artist Directory. If you want to be included, please fill out this form and email us your headshot. Wooo! Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page – we need some more “likes”. Please feel free to use our Facebook wall for shameless self promotion of all shapes and sizes (as long as the event/artist is based in Queens!).

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On Wednesday, August 22, the Mission to (dit)Mars team met up at the Creek and the Cave for another planning meeting as well as go through all the wonderful suggestions written down by everyone at the mixer.  We think this is our favorite:

Laura holds up our favorite "suggestion" from the mixer.
Laura holds up our favorite “suggestion” from the mixer.