May 4, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi
Long Island City never sleeps. The bustling and thriving community offers exciting and unexpected events, like the world premiere of award-winning playwriter Julia Rae Maldonado’s turbulent new play, “Muses,” which will run from May 11 through June 3, at the newly renamed Court Square Theater – formerly the Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) – at 44-02 23rd St.
Theatre East, which is presenting the play in that event space, has partnered with APAC, and the two organizations recently announced the renaming of the popular multicultural arts center. This cutting-edge nonprofit collective focuses on advancing the dialogue of the shared human experience through storytelling.
Tickets are on sale now for “Muses,” which tells the story of Emily, a New York painter, who discovers her husband has been in a relationship with 15-year-old Grace when she shows up at her studio wanting to sit for a painting. The two unearth cataclysmic revelations that ignite the world around them. And the universe shakes!
“I am delighted to be presenting ‘Muses,’ our first show at the newly minted Court Square Theater. The play speaks to the mission of our theater company by stirring the human side of current issues by fostering new plays of social relevance,” said Judson Jones, Theatre East’s artistic director and co-founder, who directed the play with his wife, Christa Kimlicko Jones, who is assistant director and Theatre East’s co-founder.
“While our family has lived in [Sunnyside] for many years, Theatre East always produced in Midtown Manhattan. When Astoria Performing Arts Center asked us to partner with them in this new venture in Long Island City, we jumped at the chance,” Jones added. “It’s a perfect place – 15 minutes from Times Square – and we’re thrilled to be able to present shows in a rapidly developing neighborhood of our hometown borough.”
The play was developed in Theatre East’s Writing Room, where playwrights and theater professionals collaborate and offer insights and suggestions. The cast includes Sunnyside residents Lauren Pasino as Emily and Joseph Dean Anderson as Sam, Queens native Thammie Quach as Grace and Lauren Sowa as Kate.
“I am thrilled that my play ‘Muses’ will be debuting at Court Square Theater. My creative spirit has been energized by working within the company’s Writing Room. Judson, along with our talented cast and the entire Theatre East team, has helped bring life to my vision,” Maldonado stated.
“There is a long history of revered male artists objectifying and ‘musifying’ real women and girls who never had an opportunity to tell their own stories,” the writer and actor told QNS. “Some of these muses are among the most celebrated figures in literature: Petrarch’s Laura, Goethe’s Gretchen, and Carroll’s Alice come to mind, along with countless others, whose real-world counterparts are completely unknown.”
“This history represents our shared artistic foundation and in arts fields today, this behavior is still often tolerated, excused, or minimized,” Maldonado continued. “We are now at a crossroads: women and other historically marginalized groups have more opportunity than ever before to speak up and create art.”
The 1,200-square-foot event space, now called the Court Square Theater, is not only perfect for theater and dance but also for galas, exhibits, seminars, and film shoots.
Both APAC and Theatre East have made numerous capital improvements since moving into the venue over a year ago. But there’s still much work ahead, according to Jones, who told QNS that they’re working on extending the lighting grid, putting down a permanent subfloor that will allow the space to be more flexible, and increasing lighting and sound inventories, to name a few.
“And with all of these improvements, we will always embrace that this is a warehouse, where goods were once made for the public, and we want to continue that tradition,” Jones added. “Our desire is to have a state-of-the-art facility that provides a space for all kinds of artistic sharing, in one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in New York City. The community deserves that. The artists found therein deserve that.”
Tickets start at $30. To purchase and for more information, visit theatreeast.org