As theatre producers who not only work, but live in Astoria, Jackie LaVanway and Rachel McPhee-Benson have identified a need for free, professional theatre in their neighborhood.
In 2010, On The Square Productions mounted a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a private Astoria greenspace. This production was successful in many ways, but the support and encouragement from local businesses and community members was perhaps the most important. One evening as the show started, cast, crew, and audience noticed two local children transfixed by the action and were watching through a parking lot fence positioned above the playing area. These neighborhood children had stumbled upon a magical event practically in their backyard. This moment inspired the company to replicate that magic on a broader scale. In order to make this experiment more accessible, OtSP created this program free of charge, and set their sights on found spaces seemingly commonplace to all. So the Astoria Free Theatre Project was born.
The aim of this project is to bring a free professional piece of new writing to an Astoria found space biannually. The Astoria Free Theatre Project will make its debut with Steven Bost’s The Minervae in July 2012. This event is made possible in part by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
The goals of Astoria Free Theatre Project are:
• To give back to the community where we have made our home by offering accessible, professional theatre.
• To promote the idea that theatre can happen anywhere
• To support the voices of new writers and bring them to new audiences.