He loves her and she loves him.
But there is one problem: he is black and she is Latina.
This is the main premise of “Platanos and Collard Greens,” a play performed Thursday night in the Don Evans Black Box Theater as part of Latino Awareness Month.
“Platanos and Collard Greens” features five actors. All were college graduates from New York and they performed the play with no elaborate costumes or sets.
The play is an adaptation of the David Lamb book “Do Collard Greens Go Wit’ Platanos?” The action is set in New York City’s Hunter College, Lamb’s alma mater.
The play has been performed for over 35,000 people at venues across the country. It is currently enjoying a run at the New York Historical Society Theater.
With humor, poetry, hip-hop culture references and even dancing, the play challenged not only the stereotypical images of blacks and Latinos, but also racial issues and prejudices associated with an interracial relationship.
The female protagonist, Angelita, gives a monologue in which she refuses to accept the image of “hot mulatta.”
“Jennifer Lopez with her biggest asset,” she said. “Dare touch mine and get your ass kicked.”
Many characters in the play oppose the relationship. Malady, a friend of Freeman, bluntly tells Freeman that the only reason he is attracted to Angelita is because she is the closest he can get to dating a white woman. Angelita’s mother is also against the relationship.
Freeman’s dad, who serves as the wise man of the play, points out Angelita’s mom’s denial to accept her African descent. He also addresses the stigma associated with dark complexions. He quotes a line out of Biggie Smalls’ song, “One More Chance,” when he says “I am black and ugly as ever.”
OK, an aspiring rapper and Freeman’s friend, and Nilsa, Angelita’s best friend, constantly fight during the play, bringing comic relief to the stage.
“Platanos and collard greens go together like macaroni and chicken wings,” Freeman said, explaining the name’s derivation in his introductory poetic monologue.
Freeman represents the collard greens, a vegetable historically enjoyed by blacks. Angelita is symbolized by the platanos, the Spanish word for bananas.
“It was a commentary on how historical stereotypes are here today,” Arun Gurunathan, freshman biology major, said. “And it deconstructs a lot of the stereotypes, like the concept of the hot mulatto, with its showing of people’s individuality instead of categorizing them by race.”
The play was sponsored by College Union Board, Lambda Sigma Upsilon and Uni?n Latina.