Astoria, Theater
Apr 27, 2018

Introducing Slightly Altered States, a New Theater Company in LIC

Slightly Altered States theater company is coming to Queens!

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Last month we got the news of a new theater space opening up in the Dutch Kills section of LIC, Slightly Altered States. And with a name like that we knew we had to learn more, so we interviewed Co-Artistic Directors/Co-Founders Sari Caine and Dave Rigo. We hope you’ll be as excited about Slightly Altered States as we are.

A Little Background

One of my favorite initial questions to ask a new business or organization is what is the origin of their name. Sari and Dave explain: “Finding the name Slightly Altered States was actually the easiest part of this whole thing. Our taste tends toward a darkly comic, edgy, weird, Alice In Wonderland vibe.”

Sari continues: “Dave and I were meeting in a cafe and talked about names briefly, but hadn’t landed on anything that seemed right; we had definitely been more focused on the endeavor itself until then. Then it just sort of clicked. You know that feeling of recognition, the attempt to label everything that just evades you, with the awareness of something slightly out of sync, something altered; that state that we all exist in but the fact that we are in it rarely allows us to recognize it? Slightly Altered States is our best way to attempt to convey the world that we all share, experience and create.”

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Photo credit: Slightly Altered States

“Mr Landing Takes a Fall” at The Flea Theater

They actually started developing Slightly Altered States six years ago as a fully immersive theater experience—unlike what the founders were seeing in the world of NYC theater at the time. They wanted the experience to start as soon as you enter the space, where the hallways, the pre-show, the walls and sounds around you could all immerse you in the world of the show before it even had begun on stage.

They also craved opportunities to grow and be challenged as actors and as a writer, which included leveling up in creative control of the overall production. Slightly Altered States could provide that.

How They Found Their Space

As for the location, their found their way to it by accident. Sari saw an article in a local publication that mentioned John Belitsky’s plans to turn a former sushi factory into a music and art space two blocks from where she lives, so she reached out to him via Twitter and Facebook asking what it was, and he responded practically immediately, saying, “Come on over and see for yourself!”

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The old sushi factory that will be the new home to Slightly Altered States.

“We were excited to learn about John’s vision for the Arc space in Queens and how it would fit within the community,” explains Sari. “He hopes to be an artistic haven that incubates, fosters, and produces both new and established work, and we look forward to finding ways to collaborate together. For the first time we can say we truly have a theatrical home, which means we can think in terms of seasons, and annual work, we can offer continual educational workshops instead of one-offs.”

What To Expect—Performances, Workshops, Education

As for what they’d like to offer, Sari and Dave told us this: “We intend to include all genres, hosting visual artists whose themes fit the shows we are putting have, as well as improv shows, podcasts, and Moth-style storytelling nights. Our main-stage shows will be accompanied by short plays by various local authors around the same theme, and we will continue looking for ways to be inclusive and foster new work, so that the space is both an incubator and a presentation venue.”

Photo credit: Slightly Altered States

Sari and Dave working on a new play with their company theater director in residence, Sherri Eden Barber.

Exclusive, invitation-only events for their readings and workshops will happen in May and June; improv and other smaller events, hopefully in the fall. Next season’s upcoming show, by Sari, is Rumpelstiltskin, set in a special needs classroom. (“We both enjoy and feel it is important for us to offer works that include both special needs and non special needs children.”)

Beginning in May on Thursdays from 10am-1pm they will be opening the space to other writers to come and have silent, phone-less/WiFi-free shared writing space—RSVP to sastheatercompany@gmail.com in order to better accommodate everyone. They would like to grow that time to more days as well. Also in May they’ll offer free Saturday morning chess drop-off lessons from 10:30am-noon on a RSVP basis (sastheatercompany@gmail.com).

Photo credit: Slightly Altered States

“The Chess Lesson” at IRT.

You can check their website to keep up on their plans and activities.

As we mentioned earlier, education is an important part of Slightly Altered States’ mission. Both Sari and Dave have over 25 years of teaching experience between them; education is a passion of theirs. Currently they are planning to offer a free week-long playwriting and music workshop this summer, and are reaching out to various schools in the neighborhood, eager to work on music and theater production with those students. “We hope to grow these workshops in the upcoming year, as we get to know our community better, and see how best we can fit in,” says Sari and Dave. “We also plan on having talk backs after shows, and finding other ways we can continue to engage with and grow our community.”

Happy In Queens

They love being part of the local arts community—Queens Council On the Arts has been particularly helpful as they move into their new space and set down roots here in the borough. Look for them this summer at the Kaufman-Astoria Backlot Arts Festival in June with a workshop of Sari’s play, The Wildest Ones.

Both Sari and Dave are excited to start this new chapter in their creative lives with Slightly Altered States, and the location can’t be beat. “Queens has such a rich, vibrant community, with so many artists in it, and this new space has such a great location, one block from the train, two stops from Manhattan, with the Museum of Moving Image on the corner—and of course, all the friggin’ amazing food. We believe that this is the best place to be, and the best time to be here!”

Welcome to Queens, Slightly Altered States! We’re glad you’re here.

Slightly Altered States, 36-20 36th Street, Long Island City
slightlyaltered.info | Facebook | Twitter

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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