Heard of this show?
NYT's Gina Bellafante checks out another "little show that could," in this case one totally off the radar of the commercial, nonprofit, or downtown theatre worlds. But it has gotten word out to a very enthusiastic and loyal urban audience "of color." But, no, it is not a "chitlin" show.
Bellafante is right that the show's success (even its existence) reminds us of how much theatre there is in this town that isn't white, isn't upper-income bracket, and isn't even artsy. And thus it is totally under the radar of coverage in...um, the New York Times? (Ok, good for them!)
Good point on the Andre/Perry comparison. Though based on what I've seen of the movie of "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," I'm not sure how much "crossing over" I'll be doing to his stage work.
Mr. Lamb’s play represents the strongest evidence at the moment of the blunt racial divide that marks so much cultural consumption — particularly in the theater, where projects attracting ethnically diverse audiences, either by design or in effect, come upon us with the regularity of orange groves in a cold climate. André 3000 is a crossover artist. Tyler Perry is not.
“Platanos & Collard Greens” concerns itself with the tension between the African-American and Latino communities in New York and the overwhelming majority of men and women who go to see it, some over and over, are nonwhites.
(Personally I might prefer Madea's Family Reunion, which, when I first saw the title on the Beacon Theatre marquee I imagined some crazy Greek tragedy rewrite...So, Medea, are you married? Do you have kids?--Medea: Yeah, I have kids. Well, had.)
Whatever one may think of "Plantanos" (I haven't seen it) it seems a good sign of the artform to me whenever any play attracts an audience outside the Times Square tourist or (uh, sorry again) New York Times demographic.
Check out the inspirational story, by the way, of how the playwright, David Lamb, made it happen:
"Platanos & Collard Greens” was first produced in a tiny Midtown theater — 70 seats — in 2003 and has moved gradually and intermittently to larger spaces since, with virtually nothing but conversation to endorse it.
Though the show’s creator, David Lamb, had taken out a few spots on urban radio over the years, he relied primarily on his audiences to do his promotional work for him. The show functions without a press agent; until a few weeks ago it had no Web site. The cast is entirely anonymous, in the purest, hoariest sense of the term. The production notes for “Platanos & Collard Greens” may be singular in the world of New York theater for featuring not one actor whose credits include an outing on “Law & Order” or its subsidiaries.
By the end of its run at Gould Hall [a rental house at the tony Alliance Francaise in midtown] in September, though, about 90,000 people will have seen “Platanos & Collard Greens” a figure that exceeds the number who have taken a seat at “The Year of Magical Thinking” on Broadway by close to 20,000.
Bellafante says it required an initial $20,000 investment from him and his wife, and the two of them still produce the show as a production company. No other producers are listed, so I don't know if it's fully funded by ticket sales or what.Here's a clue: that reference to no "Law and Order" credits? Why do I have a feeling Actors Equity won't be happy reading this today...