"Miracle Tomato," a traveling story of love, bioengineering and the search for home, created and performed by Jessica Cerullo, will be performed at The New Alt Theatre Performance Group in Buffalo, in conjunction with B.A.L.L. (Buffalo Artists' Learning Lab) tonight Monday, September 19th, at 8:00 pm, to benefit Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo.
This humorous, often moving play is presented by the character Angelina, a waitress-explorer whose road trip takes her to Buffalo, where she will impart the history of the tomato to all who will listen. Angelina, the youngest of triplets birthed in the family tomato plot, reveals not only the history of the controversial fruit/vegetable, but also her own, as she employs the help of her identical sisters Valentina, a bioengineer, and Josephina, a food activist. Projected slides assist in telling the story.
Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Why did the tomato appear in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1893? How many slices of pizza does America eat in a second? Where are the tomatoes that taste good? How do we say goodbye to what is lost? And how do we hold on to what is left? In viewing history through the tomato, Angelina takes the audience on a journey that examines vulnerability, appropriation, identity, consumption, cultivation, and the changing dynamic of food and family in Angelina's hometown and across the country.
Although the text is scripted, what is said in each performance changes depending on the audience. What 'makes it in' is determined in an unspoken agreement with the audience, as their nods, laughs, frowns, interest, disinterest, confusion, and celebration are received by Angelina to inform what happens next. As "Miracle Tomato" tours the country, a unique version of the show is created in each town. The show's Buffalo debut has been orchestrated by Give for Greatness Executive Director and The Good Neighborhood contributor Megan Callahan, who sees the event as a cultural exchange dedicated to the greater good.
"Since making Buffalo home nearly four years ago, I've been hoping to attract colleagues and guest artists to the region whose work would be received well by the community, and who would transversely, see why I made this wonderful town home base," said Callahan, a native of New Jersey. "The word needs to get out beyond Western New York about what we have here, and we need to continue to expand the cultural exchanges that are already happening. Having Jessica, a prominent performer from NYC and managing director of the international organization MICHA, as well as Ragnar, an award-winning film director and brilliant teacher, come to the Queen City is a real treat for us! The Michael Chekhov work attracts generous, ensemble-oriented artists, and Jessica is very community-minded - she was the one who suggested that the proceeds be donated to a local nonprofit, and we feel that Grassroots Gardens is a perfect fit to benefit from this kind of performance."
"Miracle Tomato" premiered in May 2007 at P.S. 122 in New York City as part of the soloNOVA Festival and toured the United States garnering rave reviews. It received a 'Best of the Fest' award at the Boulder International Fringe Festival and was named in the Top Ten Theater Performances of the year in Denver/Boulder in 2007. Jessica's work has been supported by the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Studio Current in Seattle, and the Tin Shop in Breckenridge, CO, where she has served as an artist in residence. Just prior to appearing in Buffalo, "Miracle Tomato" will be performed in New York City's Hyde Park.
Featuring photography by David Schulz and projection design by Asli Ayata, running time is one hour with no intermission at the New Alt Theatre Performance Group on the third floor of the Great Arrow Building at 255 Great Arrow Ave, Buffalo. Tickets are $20 suggested donation at the door, ($15 for students) with proceeds to benefit Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo, a community gardening program working with public and private sectors to revitalize neighborhoods and build quality of life through the reuse and beautification of vacant land.