Theater Groups Speak Language Of Queens People
By Juliet Werner and Elisabeth Ponsot
the river, far from the flashy lights of Broadway,
theater companies are mounting bilingual productions.
These performances both accommodate audiences
with limited English and promote the borough's
rich cultural heritage.
|Thalia Theatre presents works in Spanish.
organizations like Pachamama Peruvian Arts have
brought the complex and intricate moves of traditional
Peruvian dance to audiences in Jackson Heights
- there is only one place in the Borough where
Spanish-speaking residents can enjoy plays written
by Spanish and Latin American playwrights. This
venue is the Thalia Theatre in Sunnyside, which
since its inception in 1977 has stood as a testament
to the rich Latino culture in the area.
The Thalia has been a neighborhood icon since
it was opened by native of Cuba and renowned actress
Silvia Brito. The theatre describes its mission
on its website as a duty "to celebrate the vibrancy
and diversity of Spanish and Latin American culture
with unique productions of plays, musicals and
Today, the Thalia Theatre remains the only bilingual
Hispanic theatre in Queens. Beyond its contributions
to the neighborhood, the theatre has received
numerous citations of honor from Mayor Michael
Bloomberg and former Queens Borough President
Claire Shulman. For more information, call (718)
729-3880 or visit www.thaliatheatre.org.
Astoria's Greek Cultural Center, established more
than 30 years ago, presents three plays in Greek
every year. The center very recently started projecting
now the Greeks are third or fourth generation
they were not so familiar with the Greek," program
coordinator Fotis Michelioudakis said. "It's better
for them to read English and then they understand
This fall, the Greek Cultural Center will present
Lysistrata by Aristophanes.
"We're trying to continue our Greek heritage and
promote our culture," Michelioudakis said, adding
the center also produces modern plays.
For information, call (718) 726-7329 or visit
Shikshayatan Cultural Center, which offers classes
in Shikshayatan Cultural Center, will also present
shows that incorporate dialogue in Hindi.
Shikshayatan Director Purnima Desia said she invites
professional performers from India to the Flushing
"My mission is serve humanity," Desai said. "My
hope is that by coming to my center they get some
peace of mind."
For information, call (718)461-4065.
The Queens Theater in the Park's annual Asian
Cultural Festival attracts what manager Willy
Mosqueara calls a "very anglo, very mainstream
Mosquera attended the festival last year and most
fondly recalls a Korean drumming ensemble performance.
"The person onstage was really upfront," Mosquera
said. "He was making people sing in Korean whether
you were American or Korean or whatever, you were
repeating whatever he was saying. It was awesome.
The whole concert ended in the lobby. They all
marched out with their drums and they're still
playing. It was nonstop."
For more information about QTIP, call (718)760-0064
or visit www. queenstheatre.org.