NATIVE GARDENS To Open At The Armory
Cultures and gardens clash in acclaimed playwright Karen Zacarías' hilarious hot-button comedy Native Gardens. When a questionable fence line puts a prize-worthy garden in jeopardy, neighborly rivalry escalates into an all-out border dispute, challenging everyone's notions of race, privilege, class, and good taste. Well-intentioned neighbors quickly turn into feuding enemies.
"You go in, and you're judging each couple and changing your mind about who's right, but at the end of the play, the person you're judging is yourself. My hope is that people will take a moment to ponder what it will take for them to be a better neighbor," Zacarías said in an interview with Keluda Smith. "You can still laugh, have fun, and talk about hard things in a way where nobody's off the hook."
Melissa Crespo directs a cast that includes Anne-Marie Cusson and Paul DeBoy as the retired Butleys, and Erick González and Monica Rae Summers Gonzalez as the new neighbors, the Del Valles. Crespo leads an all women of color design team of Scenic Designer Shoko Kambara, Costume Designer Lux Haac, Lighting Designer Dawn Chiang, and Sound Designer Elishaba Ittoop. Native Gardens is a co-production with Syracuse Stage and Geva Theatre Center, where the production received rave reviews.
American Theatre Magazine named Zacarías one of the top five most-produced playwrights in the United States this season, and named Native Gardens one of the top 10 most produced plays. Recently, her play Destiny of Desire was a hit at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
The Armory will host free Post-show discussions with cast and crew following matinee performances on May 30, June 2, 6, 13, and 15.
Karen Zacarías' award-winning plays include The Copper Children, Destiny of Desire, The Book Club Play, Legacy of Light, Mariela in the Desert, The Sins of Sor Juana, and the adaptations of Just Like Us, Into the Beautiful North, and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. She is the author of 10 renowned Theater for Young Audiences musicals, including Ella Enchanted. She is a core founder of the Latinx Theatre Commons and founder of the award-winning Young Playwrights' Theater. She is an inaugural 2019 Sine Fellow for Policy Innovation at American University and just received the 2019 Lee Reynolds Award. Zacarías lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and three children.
Each member of the Native Gardens cast will be making their debut at The Armory! Anne-Marie Cusson (Off-Broadway: Stalking the Bogeyman; Echoes of the War; Far and Wide) will play Virginia Butley. Paul DeBoy (Broadway: Mamma Mia!; Tours: Mamma Mia!, Martin Luther on Trial) will play Frank Butley. Erick González (New York: El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba; Valor, Agravio y Mujer at Repertorio Español) will play Pablo Del Valle. Monica Rae Summers Gonzalez (Off-Broadway: The Siblings Play at Cherry Lane Theatre; TV: Orange Is the New Black and Shades of Blue) will play Tania Del Valle. Anthony Green (The Island in Winter, or La Isla en Invierno at Bag&Baggage Productions), Martin Hernandez (John Hughes High: The 1980s Teen Musical at Staged!), Crystal Ann Muñoz (The Importance of Being Earnest at Artists Repertory Theatre) and Lucas Salazar (various small theaters in Los Angeles) will play the gardeners.
Melissa Crespo (Wickedest Woman at Strange Sun Theatre; graveyard shift at San Francisco Playhouse; Brother Toad at Kansas City Repertory Theatre) leads a creative team of Scenic Designer Shoko Kambara (Little Girl Blue at George Street Playhouse, Next to Normal at Syracuse Stage), Costume Designer Lux Haac (Between Two Knees at Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Ajijaak on Turtle Island at New Victory Theater/Ibex Puppetry), Lighting Designer Dawn Chiang (Other Desert Cities, The Old Settler at The Armory), Sound Designer Elishaba Ittoop (The Kennedy Center, The Public Theater, American Repertory Theatre) who also wrote original compositions for the show, Stage Manager Kristen Mun, and production assistants Alexis Ellis-Alvarez and Molly Shevaun Reed.