All shades of island comedy.
A Queens-based theatre company is trying to create more visibility for Indo-Caribbeans in the media, and are premiering their new stage show to support this mission in June. Flat Tire Productions is crowdfunding for their five one-act play “Love Bites,” a Caribbean comedy presentation about love and relationships. The show will be a chance for Caribbean actors of Indian descent to show off their acting chops and explore cultural similarities and differences with laughs, said a director with the company.
“We’re giving good actors an opportunity to stretch and grow, and also show that we’re not just doing West Indian comedy, but we can also do American and our culture’s comedy,” said Alisha Persaud, a director with the production company.
The show is important to Persaud because it is an opportunity to contribute to more portrayals of Indo-Caribbeans since their representation in mainstream media is nearly nonexistent. She also adds that many actors are typecast and removed from their unique identities, or not pictured at all, leading to lack of awareness about who they are.
“If you ask a lot of people to picture someone from the Caribbean they’re thinking of someone like Nicki Minaj or Machel Montano,” she said. “And when people see us and they seem confused or don’t think we’re Caribbean too — and we get this a lot.”
Persaud said the Indo-Caribbean community champions seeing South Asian actors such as Priyanka Chopra and Aziz Ansari, but noted that there was also a desire to see South Asians who are culturally Caribbean. To change the conversation, the company has been working hard to gain support for ‘Love Bites’ and said the comedy was something Caribbean and non-Caribbeans will enjoy.
“The show is going to be fine. We have a great set of actors, and a whole team of people behind us,” said Persaud. “We’re aiming for a Broadway production with set and scene changes, and we really want people to see that we and do this,” she said. “It’s going to have to show that there’s more of us just there and show that we have a lot in common.”
The kickstarter campaign is hoping to fulfill the remaining needs and expenses for the show, and Persaud said that people will love their brand of comedy given the anti-immigrant climate that has changed the conversation.
“We picked these five plays because that’s what brings out the crowd out and we want to get the audience warmed up and make sure we get everyone of all ages,” she said. “People like that escapism and they’ll have a chance to laugh and see their own people on stage.”
She believes that creating more roles will encourage more for Indo-Caribbeans actors to pursue theater, and the representation will uplift children who want to see reflections of themselves in media.
“We hope we can continue to work to bring our help integrate us more and into the culture and represent where we come from,” she said. “I want to raise awareness to us being here and that’s what we want for our broader goal — to be seen and heard because it’s important for kids to see that.”