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Photo courtesy of Queens Theatre
Queens Storytellers Online host David Lawson at an earlier Storytellers event at Queens Theatre.

Queens Theatre is giving its audience an opportunity to tell their stories — from the comfort of their home — as part of the cultural gem’s virtual series, Queens Storytellers Online.

Queens Storytellers Online, moderated by David Lawson, features stories from writers and performers whose work has been featured on The Moth, Comedy Central, The Public Theater, and stages and screens in New York City and across the nation.

This month, each show airs Friday night at 7:30 p.m., featuring an opportunity for audiences to tell their own true five-minute story.

“Throughout our history, Queens Theatre has always found creative and fun ways to engage with audiences of all ages — and this new series is a way to continue that tradition,” said executive director Taryn Sacramone. “Our community is incredibly important to us, and we remain committed to providing our community with opportunities to discover and enjoy the arts. Queens Theatre is no exception.”

Queens Theatre has also launched two initiatives where audiences — on their desktops, laptops, smartphones and iPads — can connect with others in meaningful ways while maintaining social distance guidelines. 

Digital Story Circles, held each Friday at 1 p.m., offers a way for community members to hang out in a virtual space to share what is on their minds and how they have been connecting with each other during this period of uncertainty and isolation. 

Queens Theatre’s director of community engagement, Domenic D’Andrea, is moderating these digital forums (limited to 20 participants on a first-come, first-served basis) with rapid-fire prompts to promote sharing stories about how we are making our ways through the current pandemic.

The free Maker Series, held each Wednesday at 1 p.m., provides step-by-step instructions to learn some basic cooking, baking and crafting techniques that can be done with common items and ingredients. This program engages audiences with new ways to create, to practice self-care, and to make the best use of the resources in our homes.

On Wednesday, May 13, Marissa Troeschel, a finalist on the “Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition,” will teach an audience on how to make garbage cookies. 

“In both of these series, we are providing opportunities to connect with others, to share stories, to offer ideas, and also to have some fun,” Sacramone said. “Even as we socially distance ourselves, Queens Theatre wants to be in your living room, in your kitchen and in your heart.”

Participants can join #QTMakes as a participant or an observer, and will be “on stage” with the Maker and able to interact. In advance, participants must gather a limited list of ingredients. (The limit is 20 participants per event, on a first-come, first-served basis). Observers will be able to watch the full event and will have an opportunity to ask questions and join the conversation at the end of the event.

But this isn’t all. In the coming weeks, Queens Theatre will showcase previously recorded performances, hold Zoom workshops for school teachers, and offer programs for people at senior centers. Sustaining Queens Theatre’s ability to provide these programs and others is a new grant from NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust.

Additionally, Queens Theatre leadership and staff have been reaching out to longtime patrons. 

“People have always come to us not just to see what is on the stage, but to find community and belonging,” Sacramone said. “We miss seeing and hearing from them in person, and so we’ve all been contacting them to say ‘hello,’ check on their welfare, and to let them know how appreciative we’ve been for their support. It means the world to them, and to us, to connect with one another.”’

As a result of the pandemic, the theatre joined all other cultural institutions in the city in closing its doors and ending its in-person season until the crisis is over. Each season, Queens Theatre offers theater, dance, a family series, new play development, education programs for all ages and community engagement events. 

For those interested in donating to support Queens Theatre visit: www.queenstheatre.org/support-us.

“By making a tax-deductible contribution to Queens Theatre you become more than just an observer of that mission — you become an active participant,” Sacramone said.

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