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Bloomington Playwrights Project to debut 'Banana Tree'



Bloomington Playwrights Project kicks off its premiere of “The Banana Tree,” a play written by Dan Castellaneta and Deb Lacusta, tonight in its in-building theater.

Lacusta, a writer for “The Simpsons,” and Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, bring a comedy about a convenience store clerk named Angela, who dreams of becoming Las Vegas’ first African-American female magician. Her dreams are complicated when she is held up and a kidnapping arises due to a telepathic banana tree.

“The Banana Tree” is being shown for the very first time in the theater, which is the only theater in Indiana dedicated to featuring new plays.

“You can’t see these things anywhere else in the world,” Producing Artistic Director Chad Rabinovitz said.

The Bloomington Playwrights Project was founded in 1979 by IU students Jim Leonard and Tim Moseman and has since featured completely original plays.

“We develop them here and get them to move to other theaters,” Rabinovitz said.

Rabinovitz and other actors helped to develop the play in Telluride, Colo., this summer.

“It’s a type of show that a lot of students will enjoy,” Rabinovitz said. “A lot of people say plays are boring, but not this one.”

“The Banana Tree” was chosen to premiere at the Bloomington Playwrights Project because of its comedic nature, Rabinovitz said.

“I always look for diversity,” he said. “You don’t want five dramas in a season, and we haven’t had a zany comedy in awhile.”

Later this season, the Bloomington Playwrights Project is set to premiere three more plays.

The next one to be shown is a drama called “Island Song,” about five young people living in New York, documenting how their lives intertwine and unfold. “Island Song” is set to premiere Jan. 31.

“The Banana Tree” marks the second show in their Major Playwright Series.

This Friday, Bianca Black plays the lead role, Angela.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the show,” Black said. “We live for the actual performance, to give people something to enjoy.”

The curtains will rise at 7:30 p.m. tonight, and showings will continue at that time every Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks.

Tickets are $20 for general admission and $17 for students.

“It’s hilarious,” Black said. “What other thing would anyone else want to do besides laugh for two hours?”

Follow reporter Alison Graham on Twitter @AlisonGraham218.

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