This weekend my parents were in town visiting. It was really nice to have them here, and it was kind of cool to look at the city as a tourist again as I tried to think of fun things for us to do.
They came by my office to see where I work as a New Yorker, and we went to visit my grandparents, and Saturday night had dinner at Rosa Mexicano in Union Square (love, love that place!) But my favorite part of the weekend was Saturday night, when we went to see an off-broadway show, Platanos y Collard Greens, which I had heard rave reviews about and had been meaning to see for awhile.
In a nutshell, I loved this show. The premise is about two Hunter College students: Angelita, a young Dominican woman (hence the Platanos in the title…platanos are a popular Latino dish of plantains) and Freeman, a young Black man (hence the Collard Greens in the title) who fall in love and try to learn to deal with the criticisms of their classmates (full disclosure: this is a topic that hits close to home — my mother is Puerto Rican and my father is Black). Freeman is called an “Uncle Tom” and deals with the taunting and hurt feelings of female black classmates who wonder why he chose a Latina instead of them; Angelita is faced with her Dominican mother’s prejudices about black men.
But the show went beyond the typical interracial relationship issues: it explored the intertwined roots and history of Latinos and Blacks, as well as the role music and the city of New York have played in the relationship between the two. The similarities in both African-American and Latino roots are so similar that it really got me thinking about how the separation, prejudices and even hatred between the two even came into existence.
There were definitely a few transitions in the play that could have been smoother, and a more advanced set design would definitely benefit the show. But all in all, it was everything you want from an off-broadway play: there were moments that brought tears to my eyes from both tenderness and laughter, and after the show, I left deep in thought. And all of the actors were young and I could literally feel their love for acting; it reminded me of the brilliance of New York actors. I could definitely imagine this show as a movie — a great romantic comedy!
No matter what your race, if you want a fun show that will teach you something new and make you laugh, I’d recommend everyone going to see it. In NY, it’s playing at Baruch College (Lexington Ave @ 25th St.) but the cast also goes on tours at schools and events around the country. You can see the schedule and get tickets at http://www.platanosandcollardgreens.com.