Bloomington Playwrights Project will present “Fortunato Heist” from May 13-14 and May 19-21. This original play is written by Arun Lakra and directed by Chad Rabinovitz.
The shows will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Ted Jones Playhouse. Tickets, available on the BCT Box Office website, will cost $15 for students and $25 for general admission.
The story follows a group of thieves working together to steal the Satoshi Diamond from a dangerous international art thief. However, things don’t go according to plan as the group faces obstacles during the heist.
The story was inspired by the heist genre of film such as the “Ocean’s 11” franchise, Lakra said. Some of the attraction and challenge of creating this show was there aren’t many, if any, heist stories told on stage. Lakra said there were a fair amount of conversations to figure out if this show was even possible.
“(We are) taking a genre which has been very successful in film and bringing its technology, heist elements and cinematic feel to the stage,” Lakra said. “The challenge of trying to write and create something like that has been fun and it’s given me gray hairs.”
Lakra said he wanted to make something people could enjoy after the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic. He wanted to reconnect with audiences and create a shared experience in the theater, he said.
“I felt like I personally wanted to see something fun,” Lankra said “Just an incredible adrenaline infused thriller heist with no great underlying world changing messages.”
Lakra said he and Rabinovitz started working on the story in the Summer of 2021. With a script and story like this, Rabinovitz said there were constant changes even being made this past week during rehearsals.
“I think we're up to like draft number 40,” Rabinovitz said. “Figuring out what we can do, how do we do it and how it all comes together in a fulfilling way, has been like ‘draft edit, edit, edit, edit.’”
Along with the script, this show needed a lot of technical work to accomplish a full heist with only six actors and one setting. Rabinovitz said there are over 500 different sound effects, 100 props, different lighting techniques and costumes that all come together.
Another question raised during the planning process was how to put a laser maze on stage, since Rabinovitz said every heist story needs one. As director, Rabinovitz said he worked with every element to get these technical elements in line with the story.
“Fortunato Heist” is Bloomington Playwrights Project’s last show under the name “Bloomington Playwright Project” after 42 years. Bloomington Playwrights Project, Cardinal Stage and Pigasus Institute merged into Constellation Stage and Screen, which will begin operations on July 1.
Since this is Bloomington Playwrights Project’s last show, Rabinovitz was more intentional with casting his friends.
“There are all top notch performers,” Rabinovitz said. “Kind of like in a heist you surround yourself with a team of people you want to go steal a diamond with, that’s kind of what I did as a director.”
Rabinovitz said that even though this is BPP’s last show, it is very exciting to see what the future holds for Constellation Stage and Screen. If anything, he is calling this final show a celebration.
“Now we can do one last big hurrah with a lot of great performers and incredible stage effects and a show that literally no one has ever seen or even attempted to do before on stage,” Rabinovitz said. “It's not a bad way to end it.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the performance venue.