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Indianapolis Black Theatre Company to debut with ‘Platanos y Collard Greens’

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Indianapolis’ theater scene is growing as a new company joins the ranks. 

Indianapolis Black Theatre Company (IBTC), spearheaded by Founding Artistic Director Ben Rose, is the newest and only resident theater company to be housed at the District Theatre. The IBTC will see its Indianapolis debut and soft launch in May 2024 with the play “Platanos y Collard Greens,” which is being co-produced with Cultured Urban Winery and Teresa Reynolds Arts & Events.

“Platanos y Collard Greens” premieres at Reynolds’ alma mater Ball State University in Pruis Hall on April 18. (Image provided/Teresa Reynolds)

“This provides an opportunity to link with Treva [Bostic] and Anderson and start that relationship process of having promoters and other cities to do something that we really haven’t been able to do in the Black community,” Rose said. “I don’t know any other theatre companies in Indianapolis or Indiana that are doing traveling shows like that, so this is a step towards that direction.”

The Indianapolis Black Theatre Company aims to amplify Black and brown artists on and off stage and tell diverse stories, but not just in Indianapolis. One of the goals of IBTC is to produce shows here in Indy and then take them on the road to perform in Black and brown communities in other cities “that have not been blessed with cultural revenue,” Rose said.

Treva Bostic, owner of Cultured Urban Winery, said she uses her platform to bring live music and plays involving minorities to the community — including producing “The Meeting” in 2023. In her research for a new play to produce, Bostic said she found “Platanos y Collard Greens” and read the book it was based on, “Do Platanos Go Wit’ Collard Greens?” by David Lamb.

The play version is similar, following two college students, an African American man and Latino woman, who fall in love against the background of family tensions, cultural differences, race and relationships between community members, Bostic said.

“I’m hoping that by this powerful story, that they’ll see how a lot of our cultures are very similar and some of the tough paths that we have had both with the brown and Black people,” Bostic said. “Then for the showcase, these entertainers that are going to be on stage is important … That’s important for me being a Black woman to see that, and so young people can see that as well so that they can emulate that.”

READ MORE: Here are the winners of IRT’s statewide playwriting competition

Teresa Reynolds, who starred in the original Off Broadway production, is returning to the show as the director and producer. Reynolds said themes in the show have to do with the history of Black culture and people in the Caribbean and of Spanish descent in the Americas. “Platanos y Collard Greens” uses several different mediums to resonate with a wider audience and address heavy topics that would normally be awkward to talk about, such as spoken word, music and hip-hop, Reynolds said.

Bringing shows like “Platanos y Collard Greens” to Indianapolis stages and beyond is vital to creating opportunities for people of color to be onstage, Reynolds said. Since Black and brown stories are not always the ones being told, Reynolds said part of the mission is to make a show successful to demonstrate the value of these productions — both as a commercial endeavor and for the community. 

“Our stories are universal in the same way that we have the same themes in our lives,” Reynolds said. “There are a lot of commonalities among all of us and all of the themes that come up in our lives. … My purpose is really to show how profitable telling our stories can be and how important telling our stories can be when you see yourself on the stage.”

“Platanos y Collard Greens” premieres at Reynolds’ alma mater Ball State University in Pruis Hall on April 19. The show then moves to Anderson for five performances at the Anderson City Auditorium April 20-21 and April 26-28.

“Platanos y Collard Greens” will then come to Indianapolis for four showings at the District Theatre under the Indianapolis Black Theatre Company May 2-4. There will also be a community forum following the final show on May 4, where Rose said audience members can discuss the relevance of the play to the community in terms of next steps.

“Not so much that we can dissect the play, but we’re bringing in people to talk about, ‘What is the relevancy between the Latino community here and the Black community?’ — things that we can talk about; issues that will be relevant for people after they walk away from this if they want to continue to go forward,” Rose said. 

Following the company’s soft launch with “Platanos y Collard Greens,” Rose said the IBTC will host its official launch with a production in July and another in October. In 2025, Rose said the company aims to have three to four productions and introduce a playwriting competition.

For more information about “Platanos y Collard Greens” or to purchase tickets for one of the Indianapolis performances, visit indydistricttheatre.org. To purchase tickets for one of the Anderson performances, visit eventbrite.com.

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.

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