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Columbia University Debuts Radical Play "United States of Banana"

"Banks are the temples of America. This is a holy war. Our economy is our religion." -Giannina Braschi, United States of Banana

Columbia University Debuts Radical Play
New York, NY, May 29, 2015 --( Columbia University presents the first theater production of the controversial Latin American epic "United States of Banana," a scathing and humorous critique of the American Empire in its final days.

Adapted for the stage by Colombian director Juan Pablo Felix and based upon the radical mixed-genre book by Giannina Braschi, "United States of Banana" dramatizes the post-911 American psyche around the politics of empire and independence.

The Evergreen Review called Braschi's epic "The Waste Land of the 21st Century." The late publisher Barney Rosset, founder of Grove Press, noted that "United States of Banana" was "revolutionary in form and subject"; he stated that "Braschi's take on US relations with our southern neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean, most especially Puerto Rico, is an eye opener. The ire and the irony make for an explosive combination."

The work features Hamlet, Zarathustra, and Giannina on a quest to liberate the Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo from the dungeon of the Statue of Liberty, where he has been imprisoned by his father, the King of the United States of Banana, for more than 100 years for the crime of being born. The text was inspired by the Spanish classic drama "Life is a Dream" and the German vanguard play "Hamlet-Machine" by Heiner Muller. The work depicts New York City as "the Darwinist capital of the capitalist word" and U.S. imperialism as doomed as a chicken with its head cut off.

Juan Pablo Felix is a theater director and acting coach from Bogota. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and studied directing at Columbia University under the mentorship of American master Anne Bogart, the artistic director of SITI. He served as casting director of the Oscar-nominated film "Maria Full of Grace."

Giannina Braschi, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, is the author of the postmodern poetry classic "Empire of Dreams," the best-selling Spanglish novel "Yo-Yo Boing!" and the radical work of political fiction "United States of Banana." She is considered one of the most revolutionary voices in Latin American literature today.

The production runs from June 17 to 20, 2015 at the Schapiro Theater located off-Broadway at 610 West 115th Street in New York City. It is free and open to the public with general seating.
Contact Information
Columbia University
Grace Denoncourt
(212) 854-3408
Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Program
2960 Broadway mc1807
601 Dodge Hall
New York, NY 10027

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