It takes more than a train ticket to get onto a Broadway stage, and no one knows that better than the characters of “The Thing,” a web series about an actor living out of his element in Flushing.
Marc Palmieri, a 44-year-old playwright, screenwriter and actor, based the semi-autobiographical series on his time working at his father’s insurance agency during the difficult first part of his career.
“I got to write about a lot of things that I enjoy thinking about in regards to theater, particularly small theater, and just the life around that,” said Palmieri, who also plays the main character. “And all the adventure, drama and romance of people so passionate about doing plays that the rest of their lives can be in shambles.”
The 17-episode season revolves around a community of theater actors and directors reunited to put on a show after being apart for 15 years. The characters were friends who had a theater group together in Manhattan, chasing big dreams before the difficulties of life intervened and sent them down separate paths.
Palmieri’s protagonist is especially removed from theater life because of the physical and emotional distance he experiences commuting into Manhattan from Flushing on the 7 train.
While Flushing and the western parts of Queens have since exploded with cultural and artistic offerings, Palmieri had a culture shock during his first experiences in a neighborhood mostly famous for its Asian food and exports.
“The city recedes in the background, and you can kind of feel like you are literally out of the scene,” said Palmieri, who spent seven years living in Flushing and currently resides in Bayside.
While he does bear a striking similarity to his character, in real life Palmieri has seen considerably more professional success than his fictionalized alter ego. He currently teaches in the creative writing program at City College and has successfully written and produced multiple plays, including one that was chosen as a “Critic’s Pick” by The New York Times in 2009.
“Thankfully, I live a different life than him,” said Palmieri. “Definitely compared to this character, I’m super busy.”
For more information on “The Thing” and links to see all of the web episodes, visit the series online at www.theplayis.com.