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Unity Stage: A shining grassroots theater project

TimesLedger Newspapers

While I continue to look for a new venue for The Outrageous Fortune Company, homeless these past 18 months, Sofia Landon Geier and her Unity Stage Company continue to demonstrate that good theater can be performed almost anywhere. Established in 2009, Unity has found space in back rooms of restaurants, community centers, churches, basements, and you name it. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and Geier has the determination, energy and talent to make sure that her company succeeds.

“Increasing visibility is essential,” she says. “The more people get to see us, the better it is.” And Unity, in its short history, has been quite visible in Sunnyside and Western Queens, with full-length theater productions, children’s theater, afterschool performing arts and choral music programs, and city park tours. Recently, it ran its soon-to-be annual Figgy Pudding Short Play Fest, four evenings of original works, selected from over 200 submissions, all with funny takes on the Christmas season.

Geier, a native of Montreal, moved south at an early age to the Chicago suburbs, eventually finding her way to New York, where she is now living in Sunnyside with her husband Ted, daughter M.J. (Martha Joan), and her almost family member Nasi, a young woman from South Africa. Another daughter, Hallie, died in an auto accident some years ago, but lives on in the Love, Hallie Foundation, which promotes youth philanthropy and making the world a better place — learn more at www.LoveHallie.org.

For more than 25 years, prior to Unity’s birth, Geier enjoyed a varied and successful career as an actor, director, playwright and TV scriptwriter. She made it to Broadway with “The Nerd,” by Larry Shue, at the Helen Hayes Theatre, while you stay-at-homes may have seen her on some of the soap operas. A co-founder of Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre, Geier spends a lot of time these days teaching acting to children and adults and coaching actors in all media.

Unity’s debut production, “Loyalties” by John Galsworthy, received an acting nomination from New York Innovative Theatre Awards, an organization that recognizes the best of Off Off Broadway. Another rarity directed by Geier was “Six Cylinder Love,” a comedy about “car-lust” set in 1921. Coming up this spring, subject to available rights, will be the Queens and Long Island debut of “God of Carnage.”

Unity is looking to expand its board. With all its activities — plays, readings, classes, community and charitable work — the company is looking to grow, hopefully one day to find a permanent home. Among a bunch of testimonials listed on its website — www.UnityStage.org — one admiring parent says: “Unity Stage is a treasure to the Queens community. Kids love the experience of putting on a real show, and it’s a treat for families to see their children blossom into confident performers.”

I first met Geier when she directed “Yellow Face” by David Henry Hwang, a major highlight in the 50-play history of The Outrageous Fortune Company. So I can personally attest to her skill, determination and sensitivity. And she’s a good audience.

Keep a look out for Unity Stage — try it, you’ll like it.

Contact Ron Hellman at rbh24@Columbia.edu.

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Mishell from NYC says:
Hey check out (and like) an awesome video interview with the talented playwright of the Broadway play "Chinglish" David Henry Hwang at: http://culturecatch.com/vidcast/david-henry-hwang
Jan. 18, 2012, 2:41 pm

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