5 Questions with David Quiñones Jr.
David Quiñones Jr. has worked throughout the Capital Region in big roles and small and always seems to have a couple of projects going on at any given time while he is also tirelessly promoting many group’s productions with his promotional media work AND attending multiple shows a week. It is no longer a surprise to me to have a conversation about a future project that I’m excited seeing David in and walking into a theater and find him ushering that evening. It’s happened too many times.
Harbinger, the company I co-founded during the pandemic, is presenting “The Motherf**ker with the Hat” by Stephen Adly Guirgis as our 9th consecutive Capital Region Premiere at Albany Civic Theater on Second Avenue. It’s the story about an ex-con named Jackie returning home to Washington Heights, trying to hold onto his sobriety and go straight but there are many challenges in front of him. It’s a Tony nominated Best Play by a Pulitzer Winner that I’ve wanted to do for 10 years and when the director Brian Sheldon suggested it, I immediately said yes because it was inclusive, dealt with living morally in a recognizable world and it was funny as hell. Luckily, we have the perfect Jackie just waiting to take on his biggest challenge to date.
PW: What was the spark that lit your fire inside to want to perform?
DQ: There were two. Sort of. The first was when I was about 5 or 6, I woke up and found my dad watching Terminator 2 late one night, and to my surprise he let me stay up to watch it with him. I was blown away by the movie and have wanted to be in movies ever since. However, it wasn’t until I saw Denzel Washington in The Hurricane where I decided I wanted to act. Like, really act. Not just entertain but transform and embody a role while telling a compelling story.
PW: How did you come across this play and what does it mean to you?
DQ: I came across this play in Patrick White’s Acting Class. My friend Diaka approached me about doing a scene together for Scene Night and suggested “The Motherf**ker with the Hat.” I read it and immediately fell in love. It was the first time I read a play and instantly connected with not just the story but every single character. It felt real to me. And although it’s set in Washington Heights, I felt like it could very well have been back home in Dorchester. I knew these people and that made for an easy read for me because I could relate to them.
PW: What does your character Jackie do yo get what he wants and how is he like you or different from you?
DQ: If Jackie wants something he’ll find a way to get it. He can be a bit of a smooth talker. Charming in his own right. Maybe even a manipulator. And if that doesn’t work then he’ll get Cousin Julio cause he knows he loves him and they’re family so he kind of has to (at least that’s what he thinks). Jackie is not really like me at all. He’s loud, passionate, a little boisterous, and can’t get out of his own way. I mean, he’s willing to throw everything he’s built on because he found a hat in his house. That’s wild. However, how I do relate to him is in that feeling of optimism. Believing that my past can’t define my future and I CAN get better. But sometimes I’m human and I’m weak so who do I have around me to help me when I can’t help me?
PW: You’ve worked at numerous venues throughout the Capital Region and are always reliably showing up to support everyone’s work, can you talk about what the Capital Region Theater scene means to you?
DQ: I remember when I first started acting 6 years ago someone said to me, “this community needs you.” But they were wrong. I needed this community. The Capital Region theatre scene is FILLED with artists passionate about theatre and it blows me away. I wanted to act when I saw Denzel in The Hurricane but it wasn’t until I joined this community that I wanted to, nay, needed to do theatre. This community literally saved me and I owe a lot to it.
PW: What is a play that changed your life and how?
DQ: “Wait Until Dark.” It was the first show I did at Schenectady Civic Players and it all happened because of Facebook. A friend I met while I was managing a Hollywood Video posted on Facebook that an actor had dropped out of a role and they needed someone to fill it. I said to myself “well, why not give it a shot?” So I messaged her and she arranged the meeting with the director. I sat outside the theater before the audition and almost drove off because my anxiety was through the roof. I thought “there is no way they’ll ever cast me, I’m gonna make a fool out of myself, I don’t belong here…” But because my friend put in a good word, I didn’t want to let her down. So I auditioned and the rest is history. Now I’m hooked.
“The Motherf**ker with a Hat” by Stephen Adly Guirgis runs 6/16-6/25 at Albany Civic Theater with a FREE Preview 6/15. Tickets are $15 and are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-motherfker-with-the-hat-by-stephen-adly-guirgis-tickets-630752486667?aff=oddtdtcreator