• Video: 'Native Gardens' asks: 'How do we live together?'

    by John Moore | May 05, 2018

    In the video above, 'Native Gardens’ playwright Karen Zacarías and Director Lisa Portes about the DCPA Theatre Company’s current staging of Zacarías' celebrated comedy Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    How playwright Karen Zacarías' disarming comedy turns a conversation ender into a surprising conversation starter

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Native Gardens is a play about neighbors. And “it's a border dispute,” as Director Lisa Portes mischievously puts it.

    On one side of the fence, we have Pablo and Tania Del Valle. He is a rich and rising hotshot attorney from Chile. She is a pregnant Chicana doctoral candidate. They have just moved to Washington D.C. and bought a messy fixer-upper. On the other side of the fence, we have Frank and Virginia Butley, an older, established Anglo couple with a pristine home and yard. Virginia is a conservative defense contractor, and Frank is a semi-retired GSA agent who now tends passionately to his pristine English garden.

    The couples are happy to be neighbors — until the young interlopers discover they actually own 2 more feet of backyard land than previously thought. Putting a new fence along the actual property line would mean smashing through Frank's cherished hydrangeas and peonies.

    800 Karen Zacarias. Photo by John MooreAnd from there, “shenanigans ensue,” said Portes.

    “All sorts of shenanigans,” playwright Karen Zacarías echoed.

    Like when the white couple decides their best legal defense in this property dispute is to argue that they have squatters’ rights. Which is funny, but might lead a reader to believe the play is either a serious political metaphor for the current ideological divide in America, or that it is a needling polemic. It is neither, said Zacarías, whose Native Gardens is presently among the 10 most produced plays in the country, with 15 professional stagings staged or scheduled. The DCPA Theatre Company’s production runs through Sunday (May 6).

    “The great joy in writing this play for me was that I wanted to look at the poetry and absurdity of conflict,” Zacarías said. “To do that, I had to take a comedic angle.

    “And I wrote all four of my characters from a place of love and respect.”

    Lisa Portes. Photo by John MooreBecause of that, Portes added, “Not only do you love each of these characters, you love them all the more because you see their foibles. None of them is perfect, and none of them are evil. They're all just like us: Flawed and funny.”

    But in this highly charged, politically divisive time, Portes admits that when you hear words like fence and borders and Latinos, “naturally you think this must be an immigration play,” she said. But it’s not. “I think this play touches on differences. There's class differences, gender differences, differences across ethnicity, differences in philosophy, differences between Republicans and Democrats. There are all kinds of borders in this play that ultimately, by the end of the play, are transcended.

    And from transcendence … comedy blooms.

    mariana-fernandez-john-ahlin-ryan-garbayo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26525867837_oAside: It’s almost impossible to talk about Native Gardens without invoking shovelfuls of gardening puns, but Zacarías could not be more on point when she says, “Nobody comes out smelling like a rose.” And: “Even though the play does dig in the dirt with some thorny issues, it does it in a disarming way. I think it's kind of this cathartic experience for people to sit and laugh — not at them, but at ourselves. People leave the theater feeling buoyant and hopeful.”  

    (Pictured: Mariana Fernandez and John Ahlin in the Denver Center's 'Native Gardens.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    In the end, Portes said, “The play is really asking: ‘How do we live together?’ And I think there's no more important question to be asked at this time. And I think comedy is an invitation. When our souls are opened by laughter, I think we make room to expand ourselves.”

    Native Gardens is Zacarías’ third play at the Denver Center, following world premieres of Mariela in the Desert in 2010 and Just Like Us in 2013.

    Here are more highlighted excerpts from Senior Arts Journalist John Moore’s conversations with Karen Zacarías and Lisa Portes:

    John Moore: Karen, tell us how a dinner party changed the course of your playwriting career.

    Karen Zacarías: Ah, yes. I was at a dinner party, and I was saying to some friends, “Gosh, I don't know what to write about (next).” And so a friend tells me: “Oh, I know what you should write about. I had this fight with my neighbor” — and he went on to describe it in great detail. Then someone else says, “Oh, that's nothing. My parents have been in a seven-year legal battle with their neighbors over a tree.” And then someone else says, "Oh, yeah? Well, someone paved over our driveway!” And we were all just laughing and laughing. But then I realized all of these neighbor stories were a metaphor for human behavior — not just in our country, but all over the world. And I thought maybe I could take an absurdist look at that and have a little fun with the idea.

    Jordan Baker: 'Hard to listen when the message is a brick'

    John Moore: Lisa, tell us how your playwright managed to write a conversation starter as opposed to a conversation ender.

    Lisa Portes: Karen and I believe in theater as a live space in which many different kinds of people can come together and wrestle with the issues of our time. And I think that if you want people to come together, you can't shut anybody out. This play asks these characters to expand their circle, expand their borders and expand their sense of what's possible in the world.

    800 2 Lisa Portes. Photo by John MooreJohn Moore: Talk about the double entendre of the word “Native” in the title.

    Karen Zacarías: There is a movement called “native gardening,” and it's actually pretty strong here in Colorado. The idea is to plant only plants that are original to the landscape of a given area. Native plants take up less water, they're easier to take care of, and they feed bees and bugs in that area. So native planting is lower-maintenance and better for the environment. But some people would say native plants are not as attractive as some of the more European-style gardens like Frank’s, where you might see Japanese Azaleas or plants from all over the world. And so by using the word “Native” in the title, there are a lot of things to unpack: Who was here originally? Who is a transplant? Where is it acceptable for a hybrid garden to exist? It’s a great metaphor for a lot of things that are in the news today.”

    (Pictured: Lisa Portes addressing the opening-night celebration at the Denver Center. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    John Moore: How do the Gomez Family Landscape Technicians fit into the story?

    Lisa Portes: They are the folks who are actually doing the work while everybody else is arguing over their first-world problems. They are literally changing the landscape as the play unfolds. Karen was telling me that there have been theaters around the country that have wanted to cut those characters, but you can't make this play without them. I think the way all three families come together at the end — the Del Valles, the Butleys and the Gomezes — is Karen’s way of creating the world we want to live in.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: How great is it that actor Gustavo Marquez, who plays a member of the Gomez family, has a day job working in the Denver Center ticket office?

    Lisa Portes: I think it's going to be such a treat for the audience who may have actually bought their ticket from Gustavo to then see him in the play because he brings such beautiful life to the stage. And I'll tell you a little secret: For the pre-show, we wanted music in Spanish having to do with gardens. So, Gustavo sent me three or four lists of songs, and we used them. I owe him special thanks for that.

    John Moore: Karen, I think the most surprising part of your play may be that it has a happy ending.

    Karen: I think everybody is happy that there's a happy ending. The first draft I wrote, the ending was quite different. It was kind of gritty and ended with a gut-punch. But then I sat back and thought, ‘Do I need another gut punch right now?’ And when I asked myself, ‘What does it take to make a happy ending?’ And it’s not that hard. It takes a little understanding, a little compromise, and a lot of listening. And so I decided to go full-throttle and get the happy ending I think we all deserve.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist.


    Photo gallery: The making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens'

    Making of 'Native Gardens'Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:

    Native Gardens cast. Photo by John MooreThe cast of the Denver Center's 'Native Gardens' on opening night. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Native Gardens:
    Cast and creatives

    • Written by Karen Zacarías 
    • Directed by Lisa Portes
    • Scenic Designer: Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Designer: Raquel Barreto
    • Lighting Designer: Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Designer: Rick Sims
    • Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    • Stage manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    • Kailey Buttrick: Assistant Stage Manager  

    Cast:

    • John Ahlin (Broadway’s Tony-Award winning revival of Journey’s End) as Frank Butley
    • Jordan Baker (Broadway’s Suddenly, Last Summer, The Normal Heart) as Virginia Butley
    • Mariana Fernández (DCPA’s FADE) as Tania Del Valle
    • Ryan Garbayo (Red Bull Theater’s The Government Inspector Off-Broadway) as Pablo Del Valle.
    • Anthony V. Haro (University of Northern Colorado Opera’s La Cenerentola), Ensemble
    • Brandon Lopez (Lucent Performing Arts’ American Idiot), Ensemble
    • Gustavo Marquez (Colorado Shakespeare Education’s Comedy of Errors), Ensemble
    • Gia Valverde (Su Teatro’s Enrique’s Journey), Ensemble
  • Video: A tree grows ... and grows ... in 'Native Gardens'

    by John Moore | Apr 19, 2018

    Video: DCPA Theatre Company Charge Scenic Artist Jana Mitchell talks about the creative challenges that came with building a massive 30-foot indoor tree. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    How the DCPA's team of scenic artists built a 30-foot indoor tree for a play in the round without blocking audience views

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The set for the DCPA Theatre Company’s new comedy Native Gardens is dominated by a large and meaningful oak tree that grows tall and encompasses the entire space above and below the stage.

    But the Space Theatre is in-the-round, which means the indoor tree posed a significant creative challenge for Scenic Designer Lisa M. Orzolek and her team of artists for this first-ever staging of Karen Zacarías' celebrated comedy in a theatre where the audience is seated in a circle all around the stage.

    The play centers on two neighboring couples at odds over the location of their property line — and the presence of a massive backyard oak tree that one couple loves but aggravates the other when it drops its leaves, acorns and branches on the other side of the fence.

    How did she pull it off? “That's the magic of theatre," Orzolek teased.

    Jana Mitchell On the page, it would seem that the tree should be located between the two houses, just on one side of the property line closest to the fence. But that would be the middle of the Space Theatre, and you can't put a big tree in the middle of a round stage because of the sightline problems that would create for audiences. So Orzolek put the tree in one of the theatre’s five “voms” (or actor entranceways). And then built it to such a massive size that its branches still create all kinds of havoc for the neighboring couple.

    “In order for the tree to reach all the way across the theatre into the neighbor’s yard, it just kept getting taller and longer and wider,” Orzolek said. "It goes up and then comes back down. In the end, it was 24 feet tall and 30 feet wide.”

    The tree began as a tiny clay model. Then came wood, steel, chicken wire and muslin. “The bark structure is actually carpet padding,” Orzolek said. “Our amazing scenic-artist team just ripped carpet padding into strips to make bark and then they spray-painted it with drywall texture." It's a technique former DCPA Scenic Artist Brian Proud invented for The Secret Graden. 

    The tree plays a major part in the story, and not just because it represents a physical point of contention. It reveals differences in the way the two couples look at the world.

    “The oak tree is very important in any native garden,” Zacarías said. “They have the most biodiversity of any tree species.”

    And that's relevant to one of the couples, and hogwash to the other.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Making of 'Native Gardens'Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Backyard border dispute: How does your garden grumble?

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2018

    Your first video look at the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of 'Native Gardens." Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

     

    Good fences make for good neighbors in new comedy about couples who draw a property line in the sand


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    These days, sure, we can choose our own families. But unless you live in a commune, you don’t really get to pick your own neighbors. And America’s great, ongoing ideological divide could not be expressed more definitively — or apparently, more comically — than in a play about a property line dispute between neighbors.

    KAREN ZACARIAS. Photo by John MooreThat’s the thorn in the rose of Karen Zacarías’ popular comedy Native Gardens. On one side of the fence, we have a pregnant Latinx couple who are new to town. On the other we have empty-nesters who think “Latinx” must surely be a misspelled word. (It's not.) Trouble blooms when the younger couple discovers their property line actually extends right over their next- door-Boomers’ pristine flowerbed.

    “It’s a deceptively simple play,” Chicago-based Director Lisa Portes said. “At first you might think you are watching this charming and disarming little play about neighbors and gardens. But the minute there is a dispute over 2 feet of land — all hell breaks loose.”

    Zacarías, a native of Mexico who penned previous DCPA Theatre Company stagings of Mariela in the Desert and Just Like Us, got the idea for her play at a dinner party where the guests all traded horror stories about their neighbors. Everyone, it seems, has one.

    “All of these stories, I found, were both upsetting and funny,” Zacarías said. “And what I discovered in listening to them is that we seem to have this primal attachment to land that is both poetic and absurd at the same time. And then I realized that almost every single fight that’s going on anywhere in the world can be distilled down to one of these two things: border disputes and cultural differences.”

    mariana-fernndez-john-ahlin-ryan-garbayo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26525867837_oWhat comes out on stage, Portes said, is an accessible comedy that explores weedy issues we don’t dare talk about in our own living rooms but maybe we can laugh at in the communal anonymity of a theatre.

    At a time when the nation is polarized by talk of borders and walls, Zacarías found a way to use gardening as what she calls “a really fun metaphor to talk about really much harder issues like class and race and ageism .”

    (Pictured above and right: Mariana Fernandez and John Ahlin in 'Native Gardens.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    Even the title asks a prickly little question, Portes said: “What is native? Who is native? What does that word even mean? It’s not as black and white as we think.”

    The inaugural staging of Native Gardens accomplished something quite rare when the play was praised by a local reviewer both for having “a finger pressed to the pulse of the American mood” and for “its ability to make you forget the current political and social climate.” At the same time.

    That’s probably because Native Gardens, Zacarías said, puts no one on the defensive. “It’s sneaky that way,” she said. “I wrote all four main characters from a place of love. There’s a simplicity to the set-up, and that’s on purpose. It allows the play to sow some seeds and grow some deeper roots. And the audience is willing to go there together because really nobody comes up smelling like a rose.”

    LISA PORTES QUOTE. Photo by John Moore. Native Gardens premiered in 2016, before the ascendency of Donald Trump. But while debate over immigration has raged for as long as America, there is no question it now tops a list of issues Zacarías says “are bubbling to the surface in a vicious manner.”

    Zacarías experienced something similar in 2014, when she adapted Denver journalist Helen Thorpe’s book Just Like Us for its Denver Center world premiere. That true story followed four Denver Latinas through high school, and told how their struggles and opportunities diverged based on their citizenship status.

    “I was hoping Just Like Us would become less relevant over time, but unfortunately it’s only become more relevant,” Zacarías said, referring to the ongoing battle over the immigration policy known as DACA. And with the rise of Trump, she said, the same has proven true of Native Gardens. Only this play is much funnier.

    Zacarías and Portes were among the so-called “DC-8” who started a national movement called The Latinx Theatre Commons in 2012 to amplify the visibility of Latinx theatre in the United States. Since then, Portes has directed the world premiere of Antoinette Nwandu’s Breach, a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate in Chicago, as well as an all-Latinx version of The Glass Menagerie for Cal Shakes in northern California.

    Read more: Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    Zacarías, now the most produced Latinx playwright in America, last month launched a high-profile production for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called Destiny of Desire, a subversive homage to telenovelas, which she calls “one of the most exploitative forms of entertainment in the world.”

    Native Gardens has already had several productions around the country, but the Denver Center’s will be the first to be staged in the round configuration,” which Portes said “almost makes this like a world premiere because that will create an entirely different actor-audience relationship. The audience will be its own kind of community circling this other community of actors, and we’re all sitting together in this real garden with real plants and flowers.”

    Zacarías said the Denver Center staging also will be a first because it will introduce small, first-time improvements to the script. “I do think this will be a whole different take on the play,” she said.

    “Native Gardens is a story that asks what it takes to be a good neighbor. It is about four specific, flawed people — but it’s not really about them. It’s about us. And how all of us can be better neighbors.”

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Native Gardens: Production photos

    Native Gardens Photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by by Adams Viscom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens
    : Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    Native Gardens Opening Night. Photo by John Moore. Cast and creatives on opening night. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'Native Gardens'

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2018
    Video:

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk the DCPA NewsCenter

    Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's production of Native Gardens, Karen Zacarías' celebrated comedy about a young Latino couple who move into a fixer-upper next to an older couple with a beautifully kept garden. All is is well until the young couple discover their property line actually extends about 2 feet over their neighbors' prized flowerbed. Performances run through May 6 in the Space Theatre. Directed by Lisa Portes and featuring John Ahlin, Jordan Baker, Mariana Fernández and Ryan Garbayo. Complete cast and creative team.


    Photo gallery: The official production photos

    Native GardensOfficial gallery of 'Native Gardens' production photos. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The ‘Native Gardens’ set: ‘You can smell the dirt’

    by John Moore | Apr 10, 2018
    Making of 'Native Gardens'
    Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's "Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to the full photo gallery Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    'These are yards you have seen in your real life. And it feels like you are sitting in the garden with everybody else.'

    (Note: Perspectives is a series of free public panel discussions held just before the first preview  performance of each DCPA Theatre Company offering. Next up: The Who's Tommy: 6 p.m. Friday, April 20, Jones Theatre)

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Karen Zacarías' popular play Native Gardens, opening Friday in The Space Theatre, is a genial comedy about two neighboring couples “who have a lot in common … and who have nothing in common — at the same time,” Director of New Play Development Doug Langworthy says.

    They live side-by-side in an established suburb of Washington, D.C. One couple is older and white, the other younger and Latinx. Though these new neighbors have the best intentions, their budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. And it runs right through Frank Butley’s prized native garden.

    “What this play is trying to say is that whatever our differences are — sex, race or religion — we should still be able to live next door to each other in a loving way,” said veteran Broadway actor Jordan Baker.

    Here are five things we learned about the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming production at Perspectives:  

    NUMBER 1

    Sowing the seeds of history. Karen Zacarías now has the distinction of being the first female playwright in DCPA Theatre Company history to have had plays produced in all three of the company’s main theatres. Mariela in the Desert played in the Ricketson Theatre in 2010, Just Like Us played in the Stage Theatre in 2014 and now Native Gardens is set to open in The Space Theatre on Friday. "And all three plays are so very different,” she said. “Mariella was a drama, Just Like Us was a serio-documentary and Native Gardens is a full-throttle comedy." The only other playwright to have had plays performed in all of those same spaces was Nagle Jackson (1992-2003). "The Denver Center has been a home for me for so many years now," Zacarías  said, "I am so grateful that they have been willing to take a chance on new plays, and plays by Latina women."

    NUMBER 2NATIVE GARDENS Perspectives. Karen Zacarías. Photo by John Moore. So what is a native garden, anyway? It is defined as the use of plants, including trees, shrubs, groundcover and grasses that are indigenous to the geographic area of the garden. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. Native plant species provide nectar, pollen and seeds that serve as food for butterflies, insects, birds and other animals. Unlike natives, common horticultural plants do not provide energetic rewards for their visitors and often require pest controls to survive. Native plants do not require fertilizers and require fewer pesticides than lawns. Native plants help reduce air pollution and can significantly reduce water runoff.

    NUMBER 3Smell that dirt. Zacarías encourages audiences to look closely at the set created by DCPA Scenic Designer Lisa Orzolek, because, she says, it is another character in the play. “There is real dirt. And you can smell it,” Zacarías said. “These are yards that you have seen in your real life. The grass is uneven. There are patches. Any because this play is being staged in the round, it feels like you are sitting in the garden with everybody else.” Orzolek said the garden consists of both real plants "and fake plants that look super-real.” Every night after the show, the stagehands remove the real plants from the stage and place them under backstage grow lights.

    Read more: Native Gardens draws its line in the soil

    NUMBER 4A tree grows in D.C. That set is dominated by a very large and meaningful oak tree that grows tall and encompasses the entire air space. “The oak tree is very important in any native garden,” Zacarías said. “They have the most biodiversity of any tree species.” The tree is a source of conflict between the couples because one of them loves the tree, while the other does not — and its branches are growing over into their yard. “On the page, it would seem that the tree is situated between the two houses, just on one side of the property line — but you can't put a big tree in the middle of a stage in the round because of the sightline problems that would create," Orzolek said. So she positioned the trunk in one of the Space Theatre’s five “voms” (or actor entranceways). “In order for the tree to reach all the way across the theatre, it just kept getting taller and longer and wider,” Orzolek said. "It goes up and then comes back down. It's 24 feet tall and 30 feet wide.” How did they do it? “That's the magic of theatre," she said. And we will show you some of that magic in the coming days with a special DCPA NewsCenter video devoted to the making of the tree. Stay tuned. 

    NUMBER 5Let's grow together. Zacarías wrote Native Gardens before the 2016 election, and it will be one of the 10 most performed plays in America this season. “I feel the reason this play is being done in so many cities right now is because it gives your community, whether you are on the left or the right, a chance to laugh at yourself and remember that we are all part of a bigger microcosm," she said. "This play doesn't solve all the world's problems, but it does allow us to analyze what we can do to be a better neighbor — which is a question I think a lot of us are wrestling with right now.”

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NATIVE GARDENS Perspectives. Photo by John MooreFrom left: Actor John Ahlin,  Director of New Play Development Doug Langworthy, playwright Karen Zacarías, Scenic Designer Lisa Orzolek, Costume Designer Raquel Barreto and actors Mariana Fernández and Jordan Baker. Photo by John Moore.

    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through May 6
    • SpaceTheatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    Photos, cast list: Native Gardens draws line in the soil
    Meet Jordan Baker: 'It’s hard to listen when the message is a brick'
  • Photos, cast list: 'Native Gardens' draws line in the soil

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2018
    Making of 'Native Gardens'Above: Our full photo gallery from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens,' starting with last week's first rehearsal. To see more, click on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter


    Karen Zacarías' popular comedy takes a lighter approach to the concept of a border war — with your next-door neighbor

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    "Who here has a neighbor?" Director Lisa Portes asked the cast, creatives, ambassadors and staff gathered for a festive first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming production of Native Gardens. And when she further queried, "Who here has had a dispute with a neighbor?" and, "How many of those disputes have had to do with land or noise?" — not many of the many raised hands fell.   

    Karen Zacarías' celebrated play is the story of a young Latino couple that moves into a fixer-upper next to an older couple with a beautifully kept garden. All goes well until the aristocratic young Chileans discover their property line actually extends about 2 feet over their neighbors' existing flowerbed.

    "We all hope we get along with our neighbors," Portes said. But where there is a property line, there tends to be a line in the sand.

    Native Gardens is a comedy, "but it's a sneaky comedy," Portes added, "because suddenly there is this border dispute, and within that there is all kinds of conflict  — generational, ethnic, gender and class. And eventually these two couples really have to contend with one another."

    Portes, who primarily tackles new plays and musicals, serves on the board of Theatre Communications Group, heads the MFA directing program at DePaul University and has directed at dozens of theatres around the country. Her cast includes Broadway veterans Jordan Baker (The Normal Heart) and John Ahlin (Journey’s End), as well as Mariana Fernández, who two years ago starred the DCPA Theatre Company's FADE.

    'Native Gardens' has its first performance April 6 in the Space Theatre. Here are five fun facts we learned at first rehearsal:

    Lisa Portes quote
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    NUMBER 1

    The world goes round. Although Zacarías' play has been produced around the country since 2016, Portes is calling this the play's "world premiere production in the round." The Space is a five-sided theatre with the stage in the middle. In every previous staging, the audience has watched the story in a traditional theatre setting with an invisible fourth wall separating them from the actors on the stage. "That means the audience is examining this dispute from a safe distance," Portes said. "But in this production, the stage floor is the actual garden, and the fence separating the two houses runs right through the middle of the stage. And so depending on where your seat is, you will be sitting on one side of the fence or the other. That means you are a part of this dispute. And we're interested to see how that physical relationship you have with one side or the other plays out in your terms of your allegiances."  

    NUMBER 2RAQUEL BARRETO Expect the unexpected. If Costume Designer Raquel Barreto has one wish for how the audience feels when they walk into the Space Theatre, she said, "It's they don't encounter a preconceived set of characters" when the play begins. Meaning they should not be so easily pegged based on their appearance — or your presupposition. "This is a play that is as much about about cultural and ethnic perceptions as it is about generational differences, and so I would love it if people's expectations of having a Latino or a foolish older American neighbor are not met," she said. "We have a chance to present the audience with characters who are funny but at the same time have some layers to them. I may strongly disagree with my neighbor's politics and still love the scarf that she is wearing." 

    NUMBER 3 Is that a typo? Questions about the recent rise of the term “Latinx” (pronounced “Latin X”) have come up on a regular basis all season, and they came up again on the first day of rehearsal. They even come up in  Zacarías' script. It's not a term the older white couple in the story have ever heard of — and they are not alone. So, a refresher: Latinx has become widely embraced among scholars, community leaders and journalists as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina.  According to The Huffington Post, Latinx is part of a “linguistic revolution” that aims to move beyond gender binaries and is inclusive of the intersecting identities of Latin American descendants. In addition to men and women from all racial backgrounds, Latinx also makes room for people who are trans, queer, agender, non-binary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid.

    Just Like Us makes the political personal ... and entertaining

    NUMBER 4Speaking of ... Zacarías, who also wrote the DCPA Theatre Company's Just Like Us in 2014, and Portes were among the “DC-8” who started a national movement called The Latinx Theatre Commons in 2012 to amplify the visibility of Latinx theatre in the United States. Since then, Portes has directed the world premiere of Antoinette Nwandu’s Breach, a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate in Chicago, as well as an all-Latinx version of The Glass Menagerie for Cal Shakes in northern California.  Zacarias last month launched a high-profile staging for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called Destiny of Desire, a subversive homage to telenovelas, which she calls “one of the most exported forms of entertainment in the world.”

    NUMBER 5Small world. Next door to the Space Theatre, Off-Center is preparing to stage  This is Modern Art in The Jones Theatre. That story explores an  incident when a graffiti crew created a massive tag on the outside of the Art Institute of Chicago’s new, multimillion-dollar Modern Wing. The world-premiere of the play was staged at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in 2015, and it went down as among the most controversial stagings of the past decade. And it debuted under the direction of none other than .... Lisa Portes. "Idris is a wildly imaginative thinker,” Portes said of co-writer (and Off-Center director) Idris Goodwin. " He knows the necessity of traditional structure well, and he also pushes against it in order to get to something else. “This is Modern Art follows a pretty traditional structure, but its content is quite subversive.” READ MORE

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist.

    Native Gardens: Cast and creatives
    • Written by Karen Zacarías 
    • Directed by Lisa Portes
    • Scenic Designer: Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Designer: Raquel Barreto
    • Lighting Designer: Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Designer: Rick Sims
    • Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    • Stage manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    • Kailey Buttrick: Assistant Stage Manager  

    Cast:

    • John Ahlin (Broadway’s Tony-Award winning revival of Journey’s End) as Frank Butley
    • Jordan Baker (Broadway’s Suddenly, Last Summer, The Normal Heart) as Virginia Butley
    • Mariana Fernández (DCPA’s FADE) as Tania Del Valle
    • Ryan Garbayo (Red Bull Theater’s The Government Inspector Off-Broadway) as Pablo Del Valle.
    • Anthony V. Haro (University of Northern Colorado Opera’s La Cenerentola), Ensemble
    • Brandon Lopez (Lucent Performing Arts’ American Idiot), Ensemble
    • Gustavo Marquez (Colorado Shakespeare Education’s Comedy of Errors), Ensemble
    • Gia Valverde (Su Teatro’s Enrique’s Journey), Ensemble
    Native Gardens: Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.
    • Presented by Off-Center
    • Performances April 6-May 6
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Telemundo Denver interviews Mariana Fernández of 'FADE'

    by John Moore | Feb 23, 2016


    For all of our Spanish-speaking fans, check out Telemundo Denver's interview with  Mariana Fernández of FADE, above.


    FADE: Ticket information

  • By Tanya Saracho
  • Through March 13
  • Ricketson Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of FADE:
     
  • Photos: Opening Night of 'FADE'

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2016
    FADE in Denver

    Photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere performance of FADE, on Feb. 12. To see more photos, click the forward button on the image above. All photos may be downloaded for free directly from the Flickr album above.

    Fade Opening Night. Photo by John Moore. Our gallery includes photos backstage before the show, and from the celebration after the performance. One portion of the album includes photos from Club Denver, which serves at the lobby of the Ricketson Theatre. It was transformed to look like an actual TV writers' room on a Hollywood lot to give audience members a feel for the world of the play before they went inside the theatre.

    In Tanya Saracho's new play FADE, the Mexican-born Lucia is hired to write for a Latina TV character in a cutthroat Hollywood TV studio. She soon discovers that the Latino studio custodian, Abel, has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows, his stories start to blur with hers, with unexpected consequences. 'FADE' is directed by Jerry Ruiz and features Mariana Fernández as Lucia and Eddie Martinez as Abel.

    FADE plays through March 13 in the Ricketson Theatre. More information below.

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. (Pictured above, from left: Director Jerry Ruiz, Eddie Martinez, Tanya Saracho and Mariana Fernández. Below: Eddie Martinez has his Marines tattoo applied backstage before the show with the help of the DCPA's Lisa Parsons.)

    FADE. Eddie Martinez. Photo by John Moore.  




    Video: Your first look at FADE:


    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    FADE: Ticket information

  • By Tanya Saracho
  • Through March 13
  • Ricketson Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of FADE:
     
    FADE production photos:


    FADEPhotos by Adams Visual Communications.
  • 'FADE': You've never seen a woman like Lucia onstage before

    by John Moore | Jan 13, 2016
    FADE in Denver
    Photos from the first rehearsal of 'FADE' on Jan. 8. To see more photos, click the 'forward' arrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    FADE is a new play written by a Mexican-born playwright who acknowledges the first tentative step many U.S. businesses take toward employment equality is the token diversity hire.

    FADE takes place in a Hollywood TV studio, where the lead character, Lucia, is out of her element. “This is a practice that has gone on - and is still going on - in the TV and film industries, as well as our own (theatre) industry," said DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, "where many times a person - whether a writer, actor, director - is the token diverse person brought into a creative situation.”

    Jerry Ruiz QuoteBy focusing on a Latina TV writer and her friendship with a third-generation American Chicano who works as her custodian, “FADE really is a play that reveals the complexity that we all know exists within the Hispanic/Latino/Chicano community, but is rarely revealed on our main stages,” Thompson said at Monday’s first rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere that starts performances on Feb. 5. “You have two really interesting characters here who come from completely different backgrounds.”

    What’s also very different about FADE, director Jerry Ruiz says, is the storyteller. Playwright Tanya Saracho is native of Los Mochis, Mexico, and a Boston University alum who describes herself as “an Americanized, acculturated Mexican citizen with a green card.” Lucia is based somewhat on her experiences as a first-time TV writer.

    “There is no playwright on the American theatre scene that is doing what Tanya is doing,” Ruiz said. “Yes, she is very funny, and very provocative, but there are really serious ideas at the heart of all of her plays. She really tackles class distinctions and class differences within this nebulous Latino population that we always hear about. But she really sheds light on just how varied and diverse that set of people is.

    “I think she is an incredibly unique and important voice in the American theatre.”

    In the play, Lucia is an immigrant, but she is clearly a woman of means. Whereas the janitor, in a very not metaphorical way – cleans her trash. Lucia has been brought in to write specifically for the TV show’s token Latina TV character, because none of the white male writers have a clue what makes the character tick. And it turns out, the custodian may have a better understanding of that than Lucia does.

    “What I love about this play is that it is a story about privilege - and who has it; power - and who has it," Ruiz said. "That's really why this story is so ‘of our moment.’ This idea of who gets to tell this story, and how is it told? It's the story of appropriation. It's about how the experience of a working-class military man who is Mexican-American gets re-shaped."

    This is simply a character, the director said, theatre audiences have not seen onstage before.

    “Tanya writes such complex female characters,” Ruiz said. “I think Lucia has had a lot of privilege in her life. She probably comes from money. She is someone who has navigated the world. She has a good education, she looks a certain way. But she is powerless within the hierarchy of the television show. To me, the turning point in the play is when she suddenly realizes, ‘Oh my gosh, I have no power right now. That's what this terrible feeling is. They just see me as a translator - as one of “them.” ’ So then the question becomes - what is she willing to do?”

    Saracho believes it’s not important how she – or Lucia – found their way into the writers’ room. It’s more important that they earned their way into their next jobs. “I am grateful that they were aware enough to know that our voice was missing,” Saracho said. "In time, hopefully these (diversity) programs will be gone, because we will have redefined the mainstream - and we will not be 'otherized' this way.

    “I say just let us into the castle. We'll do something while we're in there.”


    'FADE' features Eddie Martinez and Mariana Fernández. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    FADE: Ticket information
    tanya-saracho
  • By Tanya Saracho
  • Feb. 5-March 13
  • Ricketson Theatre
  • In this  true-to-life new comedy, Mexican-American Lucia is hired to write for a Latina TV character in a cutthroat Hollywood TV studio. She soon discovers that the Latino studio custodian, Abel, has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows, his stories start to blur with hers with unexpected consequences. FADE is a standout new play from Tanya Saracho, whose writing “lands in that sweet spot between comedy and drama” (Chicago Tribune).
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

  • Mariana Fernández of 'FADE.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Saracho on the color of TV: 'We look like the future'

    by John Moore | Jan 11, 2016

    Tanya Saracho
    From left: 'FADE' playwright Tanya Saracho, actors Eddie Martinez and Mariana Fernández, and director Jerry Ruiz.


    Writer Tanya Saracho works in a magical place called ShondaLand where there are unicorns literally running down the hallways.

    OK, maybe not so much unicorns … literally. But compared to the rest of a television landscape that remains dominated by white male writers, Saracho is living out a fantasy that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

    how-to-get-away-with-murder-season-2Saracho, whose play FADE will begin performances in its world premiere staging at the Denver Center’s Ricketson Theatre on Feb. 5, is moonlighting as a staff writer on the hit ABC series How to Get Away with Murder (pictured right). 

    Veteran TV writer and playwright Theresa Rebeck, whose new play The Nest will debut on the stage right next to FADE, recently told the DCPA NewsCenter: “I am tired of (TV) being a boys club where I am the only woman around.”

    Saracho, on the other hand, is writing for a TV show with nine writers, five of whom are women, “and we're all of color,” she says. “So we’re the majority in that room. Everyone’s queer or of color or whatever and we look like … everything.

    “We look like the future.”

    Tanya Saracho quoteShondaLand is the name of the production company founded by African-American producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal). But Saracho is the first to admit that ShondaLand is not Hollywoodland. Yet.

    “It’s different because this show has a female lead of color (Viola Davis) who is really problematic and complicated and beautiful and ugly at the same time,” said Saracho. “I feel you can only fully write that character if you have a shorthand in the writers’ room. Where if she does a little twist with her hair, then you already know that has social and cultural connotations.”

    Saracho previously wrote for HBO’s Looking and Girls. Her life changed when she wrote a full episode of Looking that aired last February. She realizes that more people saw that one episode of television than will likely see all of her stage plays combined over her lifetime.

    “I realized the power of TV when I wrote that episode,” she said. “I wrote this line that was something like, ‘White guys are the worst - they think they own everything.’ Well, that got people talking. All these memes showed up on social media, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute. I've been doing all this political theatre from the beginning of my career and no one has ever made a meme out of it.’ But it’s crazy the reach that television has.”

    Saracho sees positive change everywhere. Davis became the first black woman to win the Emmy for leading actress in a TV drama. On Sunday, Taraji Henson won the Golden Globe in that same category for Empire. “All these things are happening, and it’s exciting,” Saracho said.

    Such was not the case when Saracho started writing FADE, which was partly inspired by her experiences working her first TV job. She is the first to tell you she was an untrained quota hire.

    FADE is about a first-time TV writer named Lucia who doesn’t know what she is doing,” Saracho said. When Lucia discovers that the studio custodian, Abel, has a more credible understanding of the fictional star character she is supposed to be writing for than she does, she begins incorporating his insights into her scripts. Lucia’s professional stardom rises, but soon she must grapple with the possibility that she has become part of the problem she came to the studio to help solve. 

    Saracho’s play was featured at the last Colorado New Play Summit, when the story was still a developing idea. In the year since, she says, she has leaned more into the tougher consequences of her story – specifically the issue of betrayal.

    “I was kind of shying away from that and making excuses for her,” she said. "But then we did a workshop and now I feel like, yes, let this be an ugly act of true betrayal.”

    She is essentially forcing herself to do what she is challenging audiences to do – and that is to look again at our preconceptions and prejudices about immigration.

    “I've been obsessed with trapping class in my plays since the beginning, especially when it comes to a Mexican point of view,” said Saracho, who, like her fictional lead character, was born in Mexico and describes herself as “an Americanized, acculturated Mexican citizen with a green card.” When you consider that the lowly Abel is a third-generation Chicano, the culture clash between the two characters is bound to get necessarily messy.

    “I know that a lot of people in this country think of a Mexican immigrant in only one way,” Saracho said. “I like to flip that around. So here the woman has money and status and yet, she is the Mexican immigrant. And if you think the janitor looks and feels more like what you think an immigrant is, well, no: He’s a full-blooded American.

    “I would love for people to think about immigration in a more complicated way. Not so much the politics of it but more: Do you really understand your neighbor to the south? Do you really understand the class system and the pathways to getting here and staying here?”

    And when FADE opens and Saracho returns to ShondaLand, she will do so knowing that TV writer rooms still look a lot more like they do in FADE than they do at How to Get Away with Murder.

    “No, we can't say that it’s all better just because of this one room," she said. “The lack of agency and opportunity in television is real - and it is true.”


    FADE 
    tanya-saracho

  • By Tanya Saracho
  • Feb. 5-March 13
  • Ricketson Theatre
  • In this  true-to-life new comedy, Mexican-American Lucia is hired to write for a Latina TV character in a cutthroat Hollywood TV studio. She soon discovers that the Latino studio custodian, Abel, has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows, his stories start to blur with hers with unexpected consequences. FADE is a standout new play from Tanya Saracho, whose writing “lands in that sweet spot between comedy and drama” (Chicago Tribune).
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Cast lists: Theatre Company's 'The Nest,' 'FADE'

    by John Moore | Dec 30, 2015
    Theresa Rebeck quoteBy Hope Grandon
    For The DCPA NewsCenter

    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced full casting and creative teams for the upcoming world-premiere productions of Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest and Tanya Saracho’s FADE. (Photo at right: Theresa Rebeck).

    Both productions are Theatre Company commissions made possible by the Women’s Voices Fund and were developed at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.

    The Women’s Voices Fund is a $1 million endowment that specifically supports new plays by women and the hiring of female directors. The fund has allowed the Theatre Company to produce 26 plays by women, commission 16 female playwrights and hire 20 female directors since 2006.

    “We are honored to have two powerhouse female playwrights bringing world premieres to life at the same time,” said Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. “Tanya Saracho is a funny, gifted, rising writer who is intensely aware of the layers and complexities in Hispanic culture. Theresa Rebeck is undeniably one of the most foremost female playwrights in the country and The Nest contains the best first scene of a play that I’ve read in years.”

    The Nest, directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, will feature Kevin Berntson as Ned, Brian D. Coats as Barry, Brian Dykstra as Patrick, Laura Latreille as Lila, Victoria Mack as Sam, David Mason as Nick, Carly Street as Margo and Andrea Syglowski as Irene.

    The creative team is made up of Lisa Orzolek (Scenic Designer), Angela Balogh Calin (Costume Designer), Grant W. S. Yeager (Lighting Designer), and Craig Breitenbach (Sound Designer).

    Saracho’s FADE, directed by Jerry Ruiz, will feature Mariana Fernández as Lucia and Eddie Martinez, who recently appeared in the Theatre Company’s production of As You Like It, as Abel.

    The creative team includes Timothy R. Mackabee (Scenic Designer), Meghan Anderson Doyle (Costume Designer), Richard Devin (Lighting Designer) and Tyler Nelson (Sound Designer).

    Over the past decade, the Colorado Summit has introduced 40 new plays, more than half of which returned to the stage as full DCPA Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit world premieres include Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Eric Schmidel’s adaptation of Kent Haruf’s Benediction, Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, Karen Zacarias’s Just Like Us and Dick Scanlan’s reimagined version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    The Nest
    theresa-rebeck
  • By Theresa Rebeck
  • Jan. 22-Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • FADE 
    tanya-saracho
  • By Tanya Saracho
  • Feb. 5-March 13
  • Ricketson Theatre
  • In this sharp, true-to-life new comedy, Mexican-American Lucia is hired to write for a Latina TV character in a cutthroat Hollywood TV studio. She soon discovers that the Latino studio custodian, Abel, has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows, his stories start to blur with hers with unexpected consequences. FADE is a standout new play from Tanya Saracho, whose writing “lands in that sweet spot between comedy and drama” (Chicago Tribune).
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Additional ticket information:

  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

  • 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
  • Launch Weekend Feb. 13-14
  • Festival Weekend Feb. 19-21
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or go to the Summit home page
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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.