Is this the ‘bee’ life, is this just fantasy? New Astoria play ‘Queen’ a rhapsody on saving bees

On Jan. 31, the Astoria Performing Arts Center will debut a new play about two scientists, the bees they need to save and the integrity they might lose while doing so.

“Queen,” which will be performed 12 times from Jan. 31 to Feb. 16, is a creation of Madhuri Shekar, one of the writers of HBO’s “The Nevers,”a sci-fi series in the same league as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly.”

“Queen” tells the story of two female Ph.D candidates, Sanam and Ariel, who have spent the past seven years researching vanishing bee populations across the globe. Just as they are about to publish a career-defining paper, Sanam stumbles upon an error which could cause catastrophic damage to their reputations, careers, and friendship.

Sanam and Ariel must then choose between publishing their findings and save the bees or tell the truth and face the consequences.

When writing the play Shekar said that she wanted audiences to leave the theatre worried about climate change which is threatening the world’s bee population. But also with a sense of relief, as the play centers around two very real female characters—something hard to find on the screen or stage.

“They are funny and their human and their grown up and they are passionate,”said Shekar about Sanam and Ariel. “They are like my friends.” 

As someone whose strengths have always lied in more creative endeavors, Shekar found the scientific world a bit foreign. But that changed after Shekar shared an apartment with a close friend and organic chemist who became the inspiration for “Queen’s” two Ph.D yearning leads.

She learned that scientists who, like artists, are passionate and under appreciated.

“The ways in which their work is ignored is painful to them,” said Shekar, about her now larger group of science friends. “Queen” provides a platform for the silenced female scientist working to improve the world, by making people “spend some time with the scientists who are working their buts off.” 

Hopefully so that others, like her, will learn to fully appreciate the complexities, anxieties, struggles, merit of all that they do.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students and senior citizens, and are now available online at www.apacny.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the theater, beginning one hour prior to each performance.


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