It’s in Queens
#NewsFlash | New play explores life in Queens with music and humor
The winner of a prestigious art award is about to demonstrate her talent.
Queens Council on the Arts grantee Judith Sloan will debut “It Can Happen Here: Episode One” at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 pm.
A dramatic comedy with plenty of great music and dancing, this play follows two hairdressers — one black, one white — who decide to chase their shared dream of making it as entertainers. As their journey unfolds in an unidentified Queens neighborhood, they sing about such topics as their love of doing hair, sports, immigration, predatory lending, and the bonds of female friendship.
The audience also gets to know some their customers, family members, and neighbors — a diverse, only-in-Queens group that includes a DACA recipient, an Indian-American immigration lawyer, and an older man who lost everything in Hurricane Sandy.
Sloan talked to Southeast Queens residents about their hopes, fears, and aspirations for nine months while researching this one-hour play. She also gathered information through story-telling workshops and more formal interviews before creating the fictional characters.
The title contrasts that of Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 satirical novel “It Can’t Happen Here,” which depicts a power-hungry politician who promotes nationalism. During her childhood, Sloan recalls hearing Jewish family members repeat the phrase “It can’t happen here” in rejecting the possibility of a Holocaust on U.S. soil.
Attendance is free, but reservations are required. JPAC is located at 153-10 Jamaica Ave., a few blocks from the Jamaica Center subway hub.
Sloan, a Sunnyside resident and longtime borough chronicler whose other works include the book-exhibition-performance “Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America,” and the multi-media orchestral piece “1001 Voices: Symphony for a New America,” wrote the script and songs for “It Can Happen Here: Episode One.” She also plays one of the main roles alongside Meah Pace, a former captain of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens cheering squad and a featured singer in the Resistance Revival Chorus. Other performers are Priya Darshini, a Mumbai-born musician who’s big with the Brooklyn Raga Massive; Lisette Santiago, a professional percussionist with expertise in Latin American rhythms; and Emily Wexler, a singer, dancer, and keyboard player.
“It Can Happen Here: Episode One” is funded via the inaugural QCA Artist Commissioning Project, which supports local choreographers, playwrights, and composers in their creation of original work. It was one of four projects selected from around 100 proposals.
Images: Judith Sloan
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