‘Bygone Fruit’ in NYC: Banna Desta & Antu Yacob Lead the Way at the Women in Theatre Festival

Wrapping up its 9th Annual Women in Theatre Festival this weekend at Theatre 154 in NYC, Project Y Theatre Company highlights the remarkable talents of Banna Desta and Antu Yacob. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: June 19th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — As the Project Y Theatre Company concludes its 9th Annual Women in Theatre Festival this weekend at Theatre 154 in New York City, it is a perfect time to highlight two remarkable talents featured in this year’s event: Banna Desta and Antu Yacob.

The play, titled “Bygone Fruit,” centers on Blake and Selam, a seemingly perfect couple whose harmony is tested as they prepare for their families to meet for the first time. During a tense cook-off, subtle and startling revelations about their respective heritages and views on the diaspora emerge, creating a divide that might be too great to overcome.

Banna Desta is an Eritrean and Ethiopian-American writer known for her compelling work for the stage and screen, crafting stories about and for the African diaspora. Desta’s stage work has been supported and developed by esteemed institutions such as SPACE on Ryder Farm, Audible Theater, Rattlestick Theater, Project Y Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, National Black Theater, and the Dramatists Guild Foundation. She holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU, where she currently teaches undergraduate students. Her latest work, premiering at the Women in Theatre Festival, exemplifies her commitment to telling authentic and impactful stories.

Antu Yacob, an Ethiopian-American artist raised in the U.S., has an impressive list of onscreen credits, including roles in “Rob Peace” (written and directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor), “Inventing Anna,” “The Other Two,” “Night Comes On,” “Daredevil,” “Gypsy,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Adieu Lacan,” and “Signs of Aging.” Her theater credits are equally distinguished, with performances in The Fire This Time Festival, American Slavery Project, Primary Stages, Sheen Center, Goodman Theatre, Luna Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Mixed Blood Theatre, and Pangea World Theatre. As an Associate Producer at Project Y Theatre, Yacob curates the All Hands on Deck series and is slated for a world premiere under The Philly Cycle play commission in 2025. She holds an MFA from MGSA/Rutgers University.

Landon G. Woodson and Antu Yacob. (Photo courtesy of Anthony Artis)

“Bygone Fruit” also features Landon G. Woodson, a native of Passaic, New Jersey, and an MFA graduate from Rutgers University, alongside Celestine Rae, a director, actress, dancer, and educator. Rae’s artistic journey began as a modern dancer in her hometown of Philadelphia, where she studied at Philadanco!, Koresh, and Soliloquy in Motion Dance Studios. Her multi-faceted background brings a unique depth to her performances and direction.

Project Y Theatre’s Women in Theatre Festival, running from June 6-23, is dedicated to presenting works by and about women. This year’s festival features two World Premiere productions, including one by Banna Desta, alongside an evening of one-act plays adapted from a work by the first woman playwright.

Don’t miss the chance to witness the extraordinary talents of Banna Desta, Antu Yacob, Landon G. Woodson, and Celestine Rae, and celebrate the culmination of the Women in Theatre Festival this weekend.

If You Go:

Tickets for the festival are available at www.witfestival.projectytheatre.org.

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