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'Platanos and Collard Greens' Uses Romance, Comedy to Underline Diversity Message

(Posted March 23, 2009)

The play "Platanos and Collard Greens," set on a college campus, uses the structure of a romantic comedy to make larger points about acceptance and tolerance.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Two college students, one an African-American, the other a Latino woman, meet, fall in love, and work to overcome the objections of their families and friends, as well as their own biases in the play "Platanos and Collard Greens" performed at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 3 in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

For tickets and information about the Juniata College Presents series, please call (814) 641-JTIX (5849). General admission tickets for single performances are $20, except where otherwise noted. Single-show tickets for seniors over age 65 and children age 18 and under are $12. Juniata College students are admitted free with a student ID.


Using humor and satire, the story is driven by a hip-hop score and a romantic comedy structure that addresses the stereotypes, prejudices and urban myths that exist between cultures.


Written by David Lamb and based on his novel, the play tells the story of Freeman, an African-American student, and his tentative romance with Angelita, a Latina. Both characters struggle to overcome the racial divide while taking classes at Hunter College. The plot pivots around an election for student body president and the budding feelings the two protagonists experience as the production moves forward.

"(It) is a simplistic morality tale rendered in cheerful tones, a look at the refraction of racial prejudice from one minority to another, and a primer on how best to curtail pernicious stereotype."
Ginia Bellafante, critic, New York Times


The story is told through dialogue and hip-hop rhymes, but political and moral points are made in between the laughs and music. The play, set at a college, is predictably popular on college campuses. The production has traveled to more than 100 colleges and universities across the nation.


By staging the stereotypes and prejudices of its characters, "Platanos and Collard Greens" puts the biases of human beings on display while revealing through laughter and poetry the misguided ignorance behind such beliefs. The play debuted in 2003.


Playwright David Lamb, who also produces the show, based the plot on his time as an undergraduate at Hunter College. He later graduated from the New York University School of Law and became a public finance attorney. Lamb self-published his first novel, which is the basis for the play "Platanos and Collard Greens."


Lamb has written a second play, "From Auction Block to Hip-Hop" and maintains a career as a speaker on diversity issues. The play's co-producer is Jamillah Lamb.


The cast of "Platanos and Collard Greens" includes Jessica Alvarado, Michelle Amosco, Bryonn Bain, Raven Garcia, Mai Reina Gold, Sarah Himmelstein, Osas Ighodaro, Leon Joseph, Michael Lamb, Chante Lewis, Sandie Luna, Mera, Maria Olivares, Christian Bernard Pierre, Teresa Reynolds, Ben Rivers, Phillip J. Smith, Preston Taylor, Carissa Toro and Toi Williams.


Ginia Bellafante, entertainment critic for the New York Times, wrote "In its ethos and sentiment, the play rests somewhere between a civics lesson and Howard Finster's folk art (It) is a simplistic morality tale rendered in cheerful tones, a look at the refraction of racial prejudice from one minority to another, and a primer on how best to curtail pernicious stereotype."

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.