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Queens Theatre to Present Its First-Ever Festival to Celebrate and Uplift the Artistry of the Deaf/Disabled Communities

Festival to feature Full Radius Dance, Omnium Circus, Phamaly Theatre and a host of award-winning performers from around the country.

This May, Queens Theatre will present several days of dynamic performances and events in its first-ever Forward Festival of the Arts, a national festival highlighting the artistry of Deaf/Disabled performers.

The Festival will be hosted by Queens Theatre from May 13th - 22nd and feature performances and presentations by Omnium Circus, Phamaly Theatre Company (Denver, CO), Full Radius Dance (Atlanta, GA), composer Molly Joyce, and new works by playwrights from across the country involved in The Apothetae/Lark National Playwriting Fellowship (recently rehomed at Queens Theatre). Festival events will include Audio Description, Open Captioning, ASL interpretation and other accessibility services. The Forward Festival of the Arts will also include a conversation on Disability Artistry at Lincoln Center with artists from the festival.

"The Forward Festival of the Arts extends the work we have done through Queens Theatre's Theatre for All (TFA) initiative to advance the inclusion of disabled people in the performing arts - as artists, audience members, and cultural workers," said Queens Theatre Executive Director Taryn Sacramone. "We are excited to present a festival with such a range of disciplines represented. I know audiences will be thrilled by these performances."

Omnium Circus

Saturday, May 14th, 2 PM & 8 PM

The Claire Shulman Theater at Queens Theatre , Tickets: $25 - $35

The visionary Omnium Circus brings together a completely diverse cast of extraordinary talent from all over the globe that is uniquely unified, multitalented, multi-racial, and multi-abled. Omnium Circus transports audiences into a world of jaw-dropping spectacle and wonder, inspiring them with extraordinary feats of human accomplishment and the astounding potential of the human spirit.

Omnium Circus will present "I'Mpossible," the story of a young boy who dreams of joining the circus. Join Johny as he enters a world of beautiful aerial artistry, flying hula hoops, the daring art of free-standing ladder, Cyr wheel, contortion, and more. Along the way, encounter the antics of the King Charles Unicycle basketball troupe and the hilarious comedy of Rob and Miss Jane!

Full Radius Dance

Sunday, May 15th, 3 PM

The Claire Shulman Theater at Queens Theatre, Tickets: $25

Full Radius Dance is a professional physically integrated modern dance company based in Atlanta, GA. The term physically integrated defines dance that combines dancers with and without disabilities in the creation, rehearsal, and performance of the work. For Full Radius Dance, physically integrated dance is not just about the disabled body but the bodies of all the dancers. It communicates an awareness and acceptance of physicality and a deep sense of recognition of the power and potential of the body.

During Alice, Peter, and Dorothy, Full Radius Dance examines the fantasy novels Alice in Wonderland, Peter and Wendy, and The Wizard of Oz through a disability-centric lens - how does disability inform the authors' work? What rhetoric in the novels minimalizes and/or normalizes the visual or invisible mark of disability? Funding for this work is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In Undercurrents, dancers flow on and off the stage in currents of movement, pulling the dance in unexpected directions. Partnerships are created and washed away, subtle shifts create dramatic effects, and hidden feelings and impulses run below the surface.

Molly Joyce

Sunday, May 15th, 5 PM,

The Cabaret at Queens Theatre, Tickets: $25

Molly Joyce has been deemed one of the "most versatile, prolific and intriguing composers working under the vast new-music dome" by The Washington Post. Her work is concerned with disability as a creative source. She has an impaired left hand from a previous car accident, and the primary vehicle in her pursuit is her electric vintage toy organ, an instrument she bought on eBay, which engages her disability on a compositional and performative level.

Molly Joyce will share a selection of songs for voice, toy organ, electronics, and video playback, all with songs centering disability as a creative source. In this performance, Joyce will partner with ASL interpreter/performer Brandon Kazen-Maddox, to provide further interpretation and gestural language in highlighting the lyrical and aural content. The performance will also feature videos created in collaboration with artists Four/Ten Media, Marco Grosse, Maya Smira, and live sound engineering by Michael Hammond.

Phamaly Theatre Company's The Spitfire Grill

Saturday, May 21st, 8 PM & Sunday, May 22nd, 3PM,

The Claire Shulman Theater at Queens Theater, Tickets: $25

Comforting and folksy, The Spitfire Grill is a musical that will get your toes tapping as you enter a world of hope, redemption, and some good ol' breakfast. Percy is a young woman with a complicated past, who is looking to start a new life in a small Wisconsin town that has seen better days. She finds work at THE SPITFIRE GRILL, a rundown diner with a disenfranchised proprietor. Through her sheer force of determination, optimism, and love, Percy is able to revitalize the grill and, in turn, the community.

Now in its fourth decade as a homegrown, award-winning Denver arts organization, Phamaly Theatre Company produces professional plays, musicals, and original work, cast entirely of performers with disabilities. Phamaly's mission is to be a creative home for theatre artists with disabilities; to model a disability-affirmative theatrical process; and to upend conventional narratives by transforming individuals, audiences, and the world.

The Apothetae/New American Voices Reading Series

Friday, May 13th - Sunday, May 22nd

The Studio at Queens Theatre, FREE

In 2015, The Apothetae, , a theater company committed to challenging perceived perceptions of the "Disabled Experience," and The Lark , a play development lab devoted to equity, community, and the power of an individual artistic voice, launched The Apothetae at Lark Fellowship, the centerpiece of a broader initiative designed to provide an unprecedented platform of financial and artistic support and advocacy for Deaf/Disabled Artists to promote the generation of new plays with the power to revolutionize the cultural conversation surrounding Disability, as well as address the profound underrepresentation and oppressive misrepresentation of people with disabilities that persists throughout our cultural media. The Lark shuttered in late 2021, and the initiative has been rehomed at Queens Theatre.

Six readings of new plays by Disabled playwrights, developed through the Apothetae at Lark Fellowship will be presented as part of the festival. The diverse set of plays, which are written in a wide range of styles, includes, "Blanche and Stella" by A.A. Brenner; "The Tings We Carry" by Oya Mae "O" Duchess Davis, "3 Bodies'' by Jerron Herman, "We Will Never Reach The Shore" by Tim J. Lord, Magda Romanska's "The Life and Times of Stephen Hawking," and Nikki Brake-Silla's, "Say It Ain't So." All readings will be presented in-person.

Play readings are free, but reservations are required. Ticketed events start at $25. Students and seniors receive a 10% discount. For more information about the festival and to reserve your spot, visit https://queenstheatre.org/forward-festival or call the Box Office at 718.760.0064.

Queens Theatre's Forward Festival for the Arts is made possible through the generous support of APAP ArtsForward, the National Endowment of the Arts, The Apothetae/Lark National Playwriting Fellowship (funded by Ford Foundation, Jeffrey Steinman, Howard Gilman Foundation), Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Con Edison, Howard Gilman Foundation, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.



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