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Playing Around At RI’s Bananagrams

Saturday, August 13, 2011


When WaterFire goes bananas tonight, it will be a tribute to one of Rhode Island's playfully creative men: Abe Nathansan, the inventor of Bananagrams, who died last summer.

Bananaganza! is the theme tonight, and festivities include a Bananagrams free play game area, live music, prizes and fun for all ages.

With bananas on the brain, GoLocalProv spoke to Rena Nathanson, Abe's daughter and the Top Banana for the Rhode Island company, about the conflunce of two Rhode Island institutions.

Why WaterFire? What is the confluence of the exciting play of Bananagrams and the eerie mood of WaterFire?

Bananagrams brings families and friends together to play a game that is fast and fun. All you need is a place to play and a couple of players who want to challenge one another’s word play skills. From the very start, we held to my father’s belief in strong design and good materials to create a game that is visually attractive, tactile and practical.

WaterFire arouses the senses in a different way, aligning two opposing and primeval elements in the center of a modern city to create a beautiful event. What do they share? In either case, you can rearrange the basic elements to create something that is beautiful, stimulates the creative side of the brain, but at the end of the day – or night – makes you smile!

What can visitors tonight look forward to?

The evening is really about several things. Of course, we want people in our hometown to know that we’re proud to be a Rhode Island company so we’re bringing friends, family, our local vendors and visitors together to celebrate over five years of success.

There’s an ‘educational’ element to Bananagrams. All our games are designed to help kids develop their literacy skills so we’re proud to be associated with Teach for America’s efforts in some very challenged schools and over 200 Rhode Island teachers and educators who are being recognized for their excellence and hard work.

Finally, we also want to share the sense of fun that is inherent in our games, so we’re creating a kind of fairground atmosphere with game play, prizes and fun.

Not many people realize that this worldwide game was created by a Rhode Islander, and that the company is in RI... is WaterFire a new way for Bananagrams to "come out" locally?

My father lived and worked in Rhode Island throughout his life and was a well-known figure in the arts scene in Providence. We’re proud of our Rhode Island ‘heritage’ and to be part of the growing creative sector of the state’s economy. Our first vendors were in Cranston and Providence and from that time we’ve grown to a company with a strong international sales presence. So, I don’t see it as ‘coming out’ – as a local company we’ve always been ‘loud and proud’ – and WaterFire is another declaration of that pride.

What do you love most about WaterFire? What do you love most about Bananagrams?

That’s easy  - the creativity, beauty and fun that they both share. Plus the fact that they help make Rhode Island famous!


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