Banana Boat Productions, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1996 by Merlina Rich, is dedicated to presenting quality Caribbean theater to the Caribbean and non-Caribbean community. Our premise is simply this: Caribbean culture is a rich and multicolored palette of expressions, experiences, and lifestyles that has been woefully underexposed in the realm of truly meaningful theater. It is our hope that through our readings, staged productions, and outreach programs, we can bring thoughtful Caribbean theatrical experiences to a larger audience– one that will become more able to recognize and appreciate the struggles and resolutions, the humor and sadness, and the indomitable spirit of Caribbean life.
In addition to our local projects, we are also proud to sponsor the Banana Boat School Brigade, a concerted effort to bring educational and self-expressive opportunities to Caribbean children in their own milieu. In co-operation with the teaching staff of a growing number of impoverished schools in Jamaica, the School Brigade collects donated school supplies, gently-used clothes and even some much needed classroom decorations and furnishings. They are then physically transported to the actual school settings. In this manner, all the items arrive safely to their destination where they can be put to good use. Our volunteers are typically theater professionals who collaborate with teachers and individual students to focus not only on specific educational goals but also on helping them fashion generic dramatic presentations aimed at developing personal and cultural pride.