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Portland Stage Presents NATIVE GARDENS

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Portland Stage transforms into a blooming garden for its Mainstage comedy that challenges audiences to look beyond our differences and find our common decency: Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías.

Reviewers are invited to attend opening night, Friday, March 6 at 7:30 pm.

In a season lineup that "explores the transformative change that can happen when people take the time to listen to others' viewpoints rather than doggedly following their own," according to Executive and Artistic Director Anita Stewart, Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías dives headfirst into the fray with a brilliant comedy set in the backyards of two well-intentioned neighbors in a densely-populated, status-conscious Washington D.C. neighborhood. New to the community is a young couple - a Chilean attorney and his pregnant American wife in pursuit of her PhD - who move in next door to the well-established couple on the verge of retirement who have lived in the community for decades. The fireworks begin as a biodynamic concept garden begins to take shape next to the carefully manicured formal English garden doused in insecticides. The conflicting gardening techniques expose differences in generational outlook, cultures, and political perspectives. Bad goes to worse as the couples discover that their yards are divided by a misplaced boundary fence. In a political climate that has so many on edge about our differences, Native Gardens provides a pressure valve for the tensions with an optimistic vision. The accuracy, care, and deftness of the themes that have escalated since it was written in 2015 is a nod to the talent of Lantinx playwright Karen Zacarías as one of the most produced playwrights in the USA. Native Gardens gives the audience a chance to laugh, think, and find shared decency on both sides of the fence.

The scenic design by Anita Stewart served up no small challenge to the set builders, requiring two growing, living yards, one with a prize-winning flower garden in full bloom and the fixer-upper with an oak tree that drops acorns on the other garden. Flowers don't bloom in March in Maine - even in green houses unless forced to do so and keeping them alive in the dark of the theater for the month-long run offers further challenges. Foresight, planning, and community partners with gardening knowledge brought the stage to full bloom. The Coast of Maine donated a pallet of Quoddy Blend Lobster Compost, Ron Forest & Sons Fence Company donated custom-made wood fencing and posts, Lowe's in Portland donated plants, and East & Eye Cannabis Company donated consultation on best grow light practices.[

The established, older conservative D.C. couple is played by a local favorite, Falmouth-based actor Laura Houcke, and NYC-based actor Mitch Tebo who played the comedic role of Andrew Carnes in the recent revival of Oklahoma! on Broadway. The young professional couple is played by NYC actors, Jose-Maria Aguila, best known for his roles in Blue Bloods (2010), 5th of July (2019) and Pose (2018), and Octavia Chavez-Richmond, an actress and director, known for Knives Out (2019), Lolita Express, and A Ring for Christmas.

Cast & Artists

Pablo Del Valle Jose-Maria Aguila*
Tania Del Valle Octavia Chavez-Richmond*
Virginia Butley Laura Houck*
Frank Butley Mitch Tebo*

Director Jade King Carroll***
Scenic Designer Anita Stewart**
Costume Designer Kenisha Kelly
Lighting Designer Cat Wilson**
Sound Designer Seth Asa Sengel
Stage Manager Myles C. Hatch*

* Denotes Member of Actors Equity Association
** Denotes Member of United Scenic Arts
***Denotes Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

Buy Tickets Online:
Price: Previews $37-$42 | Sat & Sun Matinee $50-$70 | All other performances $45-$65 Discounts for Seniors, Students, Rush35 and Groups
RUSH35: 35 & UNDER
Members Club Reception | Wed, March 4 | 6:30 pm
35 or Under are invited to join online
$15 Mainstage Tickets & Monthly Reception
OPEN CAPTIONING: Friday, March 13 | 7:30 pm

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