Intiman’s Native Gardens: Beyond the Theatre

A familiar story is taking place. Faces change but tensions remain the same. What to do about the new neighbors?

Playwright Karen Zacarías

In Native Gardens, playwright Karen Zacarías makes a scene, actually many, out of the dilemma a couple of couples face while getting to know ”the neighbors.”

Set in the adjoining backyards of two townhouses in Washington, D.C., stark differences are, readily, apparent. The Butley’s, a well-to-do middle-aged white couple have put years of loving care into their property. In fact, they hope their formal garden will be a prize winner in the upcoming annual horticultural competition.

On the other side of the fence, there’s work to be done. A long neglected house needs some loving care. There’s the unkempt yard and, more importantly, the new job and a baby on the way. The Del Valles have plans. In fact, they are planning a barbeque. The difference between the Butley’s and the Del Valles is akin to one family having a Cocktail Hour Garden: Creating Evening Spaces for Relaxation and Entertaining while the other family is firing up the grill to test Michael Symon’s Playing With Fire: BBQ and More from the Grill, Smoker and Fireplace recipes.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Like neighboring countries, Native Gardens brings into play, with comedic flair, boundary disputes, class, racial and age differences and personal histories that resonate well beyond a disagreement over gardening aesthetics.

A trip to their local library might just shed some light on the subject! Attorney Pablo Del Valle should suggest both families read the book Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries and Noise so they can figure out what needs to be done about encroachment on a neighboring property.

Viewing Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy that Shaped a Nation, would give the Butley’s a larger perspective about their new neighbor’s identities and prevent them from jumping to conclusions and assumptions about the Del Valles.

Surely, both couples would be well served by embracing the ideas offered in Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference, Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts, as well as This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto against Ageism. 

A good night’s sleep can fortify you against life’s unexpected challenges, irritations, upsets and battles. A book, read at the right time, can be an essential ally in providing insight and understanding. There are things, however, that sleep cannot remedy, that require one’s full attention. Where some folks sleepwalk through life, others stride through with their eyes wide open. For them, Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race is essential reading.

The humor in Native Gardens has been compared to a cross between All In the Family and I Love Lucy. The actors can get wacky and far-fetched as they deliver, from the ground up, a cogent message. Discover the ways that message can be delivered. Check out the resource list Native Gardens.

~posted by Chris

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