LaGuardia students take stage at Chocolate Factory

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“Second Language,” a play currently in production at Long Island City’s The Chocolate Factory, is performed by students from LaGuardia Community College, but director David Herskovits of Target Margin Theater said the production will be far from amateur.

“This is not a student show,” Herskovits said. “It’s a play we’re presenting to the public that involves the community.”

For Herskovits, the production, which will run at the theater at 549 49th Ave. in Long Island City through March 5 at 8 p.m., is a reflection of not only the college, at 31-10 Thomson Ave. in Long Island City, but the greater diverse Queens community.

The show is made up of small, unrelated pieces only occasionally interconnected by a few recurring characters, all centering around the subject of trying to learn a second language.

“I hope that it really has a meaningful relationship to this population and this place,” Herskovits said, adding that he was referring to both the college and the borough.

Herskovits said the play came about in talks with Stephen Hitt, manager of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and Handan Ozbilgin, assistant artistic director of the center. Herskovits had done a showing at the college last year, and later pitched ideas to Hitt and Ozbilgin about what projects could be done with the students.

“This was by far the one we were most excited about,” Herskovits said.

Sarah Ford, the stage manager for the play, said the script for the production was created by the student actors who first worked with Herskovits at two two-hour sessions in fall 2010. In January, the students started preparation for “Second Language,” writing the script for the project as they rehearsed it. The script came from exercises in English as a Second Language textbooks, interviews with other students on campus and interviews with other students. Actors will be speaking in English throughout, but there are three actors who are fluent in Hindi, Chinese or Spanish who will interpret many scenes, and the students will also perform a scene from William Shakespeare’s play “Henry V” that has some French in it.

“They’re great,” Ford said of the students. “They’ve got a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of ideas.”

While all but two of the actors are students, Herskovits said most of the staff is made up of professionals with Target Margin, a theater company that is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Herskovits describes the piece as poetic, associative and dreamlike.

“A rich reflection on the struggle and pleasure of communicat­ion,” is how he characterized it.

Daniel Glass, a 21-year-old student who is originally from Brooklyn and now lives on Long Island, said he was surprised at how well the play was coming together.

“I’ve never really done improv myself, so it’s a new experience for me,” Glass said, “and I really enjoy it.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

If You Go

Second Language

When: Through March 5, 8 p.m.

Where: The Chocolate Factory, 549 49th Ave., Long Island City

Cost: $15


Updated 10:33 am, October 12, 2011
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