A sharp, timely comedy where backyard fences become border walls, azaleas become colonial forces, and privilege is as branched and rooted as an oak.
The action occurs in two yards separated by the fence that is central to the play; the older, white Butleys live on audience left, and the young, Latinx Del Valles on the right. Borders and separation are a major theme in this piece, so I wanted the sonic motifs of each yard to be strongly delineated. When the play--and the backyard war--resolves, the sonic elements merge.
My design largely focused on the vignettes between each scene. Though wordless, a lot of storytelling and narrative progress happens in these moments.
I scored the Butley's pristine, manicured yard with classical flute music and the Del Valles' native-garden-under-construction with original bongo/percussion pieces my father and I collaborated to create. We recorded many, many beats, rolls, and "punctuation marks" that I collaged to create the perfect moments for the action on stage.
The third piece of the puzzle is the workers who frequent the stage, building the fence. They always have music playing on a boombox. Technical Director Alex Smith helped me create an effect where the music flows from the boombox to the house speakers and back again as they enter and exit.
I feel Native Gardens owes much to the classic sitcom genre. I chose Spanish covers of lighthearted American oldies for the boombox, and recorded my father playing bongo over them for cohesion. The songs in the vignettes provided punchlines and punctuation for the dialogue in the previous scene.
I kept those oldies going in the pre-show music. I encourage you to enjoy the playlist below; it's a mix of protest songs and sheer groovy fun.
...this play is marked by wonderful music compositions of popular tunes rendered in Spanish, original compositions and other sound design by Clare Marie Nemanich.
--Alan Smason, theatrecriticism.com
Written by Karen Zacarías
Produced at Southern Rep Theatre, New Orleans, LA, October 2019
Frank: Randy Cheramie
Tania: Andréa Morales
Virginia: Leslie Nipkow
Pablo: Yamil Rodriguez
Ensemble: Hannah Guihur Colón, Anna Karina DeLage, Gabriela López Rúiz
Director: Helen Jaksch
Scenic Design: Joey Moro
Lighting Design: Melissa Martinez
Props Design: Kara Borasch
Stage Manager: Hannah Alexandra Jacuzzi
Assistant Stage Manager: Hannah Alikhani
Dramaturg: Ilyanette Bernabel