The Bloomington Playwrights Project’s new show will bring the heist genre to the stage


The Bloomington Playwrights Project will perform “Fortunato Heist” May 13-14 and May 19-21. This original play is written by Arun Lakra and directed by Chad Rabinovitz.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Tickets, available on the BCT Box Office website, will cost $15 for students and $25 for general admission.

The story follows a group of thieves working together to steal the Satoshi Diamond from a dangerous international art thief. However, things don’t go as planned as the group faces obstacles during the heist.

The story was inspired by the heist movie genre such as the “Ocean’s 11” franchise, Lakra said. Part of the attraction and challenge of creating this show was that there weren’t many, if any, heist stories being told on stage. Lakra said there’s been quite a bit of conversation about whether this show is even possible.

“(We) take a genre that’s been hugely successful in film and bring its technology, heist elements and cinematic feel to the scene,” Lakra said. “The challenge of trying to write and create something like this was fun and it gave me gray hair.”

Lakra said he wanted to create something people could enjoy after the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic. He wanted to reconnect with audiences and create a shared theater experience, he said.

“I felt like I personally wanted to see something fun,” Lankra said. “Just an amazing adrenaline-infused thriller with no big underlying world-changing messages.”

Lakra said he and Rabinovitz began working on the story in the summer of 2021. With a script and story like this, Rabinovitz said constant changes were made even last week during rehearsals.

“I think we’re ready to love draft number 40,” Rabinovitz said. “Finding out what we can do, how to do it, and how it all comes together in a satisfying way, has been like ‘draft tweak, tweak, tweak, tweak’.”

In addition to the script, this show required a lot of technical work to pull off a full heist with just six actors and a set. Rabinovitz said there are over 500 different sound effects, 100 props, different lighting techniques and costumes that come together.

Another question raised during the planning process was how to put a laser maze on stage, since Rabinovitz said every heist story needed one. As director, Rabinovitz said he worked with every element to align those technical elements with the story.

“Fortunato Heist” is the Bloomington Playwrights Project’s final show as the “Bloomington Playwright Project” after 42 years. Bloomington Playwrights Project, Cardinal Stage and Pigasus Institute have merged to form Constellation Stage and Screen, which will begin operations July 1.

As this is the final Bloomington Playwrights Project show, Rabinovitz was more intentional with the casting of his friends.

“There are all top-notch artists,” Rabinovitz said. “A bit like in a heist, you surround yourself with a team of people you want to go and steal a diamond with, that’s kind of what I did as a director.”

Rabinovitz said that even though this is BPP’s last show, it’s very exciting to see what the future holds for Constellation Stage and Screen. On the contrary, he calls this final show a celebration.

“Now we can do one last big thumbs up with a lot of great performers and amazing stage effects and a show that literally no one has ever seen or even attempted to do before on stage,” Rabinovitz said. “Not a bad way to end it.”

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