Proteus Festival ’21 promises to be the best ever! Our annual celebration of creativity begins with Proteus Film Festival, with juried exhibitions of films selected from worldwide submissions alongside in-person panel discussions supporting local filmmakers and enthusiasts.

Other events begin spinning up soon after the projectors flicker. Creative Teams, groups of local folks looking to make something new and the true heart of Proteus Festival, get their prompt and begin making new works on Friday, October 1st. Creative Office Hours are back as part of the Creative Teams programming this year, featuring interviews and audience Q&A with selected artists; among those artists this year is award winning playwright, screenwriter, and producer Jonathan Tolins (Buyer & Cellar, Broadway’s The Twilight of the Golds, CBS’s Brain Dead, The Good Fight). The final weekend is jam-packed with stuff—Xandria Wylde’s Hot Mess eXpress begins its run on October 7th, the inaugural Proteus Party happens in the Main Stage on October 8th featuring a slew of local performers debuting a new album from Hunter Hughes, the annual TasteBreakers Contest takes place on October 9th, and the Creative Teams present new works on October 10th.


Proteus Party: A Creative Extravaganza 

October 8 ONLY, 5:30PM – 10:30PM

-Proteus Party: A Creative Extravaganza An evening not to be missed supporting The Z’s mission to develop new works & emerging artists and build community through the arts. With a VIP event, ticketed Proteus Festival shows and a free outdoor Block Party, EVERYONE’S INVITED to our celebration of creativity and community.

Just choose your Experience and we will see you there!


Hunter at Sunrise Sessions Volume Two, the Pandemic Recordings, features 34 tracks of some of the artists and songs that made the airwaves from September 2020 to April 2021 during the Year of COVID. Proceeds from the sales of the album will benefit the non-profit  Zeiders American Dream Theater in Town Center, where Hughes and some of the featured artists will come together for a launch party on Friday night October 8 starting at 5:30pm with music performances throughout the evening on our Terrace Stage, Plaza Stage, and Main Stage. Click image below to see the full line up of performers. 


Watch the TasteBreakers Contest Finals live! Five finalists will compete before a panel of industry professionals for a chance to win their very own concert performance in The Z’s TasteBreakers Concert Series. Come and cheer on these incredible musicians and see who the next TasteBreakers artist will be!




This raucous, comedic drama, by local playwright Matthew Payton-Downey, is about the unlikeliest of roommates: Xandria, a bold, colorful drag queen and Al, the straightest, by the book, humble guy; think The Odd Couple meets RuPaul’s Drag Race. Personalities collide as people come and go from the apartment, secrets & tea spill, and both roommates learn the power of being unashamedly YOU! Don’t miss this rollicking 21st Century drawing room escapade: Xandria’s Wylde’s Hot Mess eXpress: All Aboard!


Film Blocks

“Sandbridge” Shorts
Another Clover
Revolver & Chicken soup
Unreal Estate
Compost Like a Pug
54 minutes total run time

“Little Neck” Shorts
…And Then the Darkness
The Beekeeper
Class Action
56 minutes total run time


Film Synopsis

…And Then the Darkness - drama (short), 13 minutes
Directed by Andrew Huggins
A pharmacist seeks revenge as he searches for the man who took everything from him.

Another Clover - drama (short), 6 minutes
Directed by Thomas F. O’Brien
Three secret agents are tested for psychic powers they possess after their grandfathers, a Tuskegee Airman, Navajo Code Talker, and OSS (pre-CIA) were in an atmosphere and electromagnetic event in WWII created by Nikola Tesla.

The Beekeeper - comedy (short), 5 minutes
Directed by Hank Farr
A sentient, superpowered swarm of bees attempts to fit into human society.

Bloom - drama (short), 14 minutes
Directed by Norah Long
An impoverished young woman yearning for a better life becomes a participant in the first human trials of chloroplast therapy, an experimental new medical treatment, and is forced to choose between her past and her future.

Bryn Gets a Life - comedy (feature), 74 minutes
Directed by Cameron Logan
When an autographed “golden record” is stolen from under her nose, Bryn, a self-absorbed slacker, has two days to track it down or find a replacement before her boss gets back in town. Set in 1986.

Class Action - drama (short), 15 minutes
Directed by Guillame Creton
A teacher killed herself a few weeks before high school diploma exams and her colleagues go on strike. An emergency meeting is organized between the education officer and the teachers who accuse the Ministry of Education of being responsible for this tragedy.

Compost Like a Pug - documentary (short), 5 minutes
Directed by Darby Puckett
Rocky is the face of Astoria Pug, a micro composting operation in Astoria organized by Caren Tedesco and Lou E. Reyes. In this “dogumentary’” we see Rocky as he takes us on a mini journey with food scraps.

Embryo - drama (short), 14 minutes
Directed by Noah Logan
Taking care of an egg for health class? Easy. Taking care of an actual child? Much harder. Harper Ales is a single mother in a surreal world where babies hatch from eggs, but, even in this world, the struggles of motherhood are just as difficult.

Gift - drama (short), 9 minutes
Directed by Vince Eisenson
A jaded alcoholic has his world view changed by an unexpected act.

Marshmallow Mystery Tour - comedy (feature), 84 minutes
Directed by Jeff Beals & Matthew Beals
After landing a gig at a marshmallow theme park, a cameraman uncovers the shocking truth about America’s candyland and his own sugarcoated childhood.

Revolver & Chicken soup - comedy (short), 22 minutes
Directed by Gergely Kocsis
A middle-aged man—who still lives with his mother—after long years of quarreling and chicken soup eating finally decides that he must move out. But can he succeed on his absurd and sometimes borderline burlesque adventure?

Unreal Estate - drama (short), 7 minutes
Directed by John C. Forte
A moment of passion results in a lifetime of regret and inability to accept the consequences.


Creative Teams, the heart of Proteus Festival, get their prompt and begin making new works on Friday, October 1st. Creative Teams are formed by folks looking to try their hand at making something new, regardless of their age or experience. They form in the weeks before Proteus Festival and pledge to create a new work during the festival, in either theater, film, or music. Creative Teams are mentored by local professionals in their chosen discipline, and team members get special access to all Proteus Festival events. We are presenting two “Creative Office Hours” as part of the Creative Teams programming this year, featuring interviews and an audience Q & A with selected artists; among those artists this year is playwright, screenwriter and producer Jonathan Tolins (The Twilight of the Golds, Braindead, The Good Fight). Creative Teams present their works in a juried performance on Sunday, October 10th, in the Main Stage.*