Native Gardens

Chicago Premiere


June 2 – July 2, 2017
by Karen Zacarias
directed by Marti Lyons

“An UTTER DELIGHT. One of the most fun, funniest shows I’ve seen…Do yourself a favor and SEE IT!”

PerformInk Chicago

Pablo, a high-powered lawyer, and his pregnant wife Tania, a doctoral candidate, think they have hit the jackpot with their new home. It seems to have everything they dreamed of: a nice neighborhood, plenty of bedrooms for their growing family, outdoor space, and friendly neighbors. When Pablo and Tania decide to upgrade the eyesore chain link fence in their backyard, neighbors Virginia and Frank couldn’t be happier. Happy until they think their new neighbors are taking more than they deserve. A disagreement over a property line quickly spirals into a war of taste, class and entitlement in Native Gardens, a hilarious comedy by Karen Zacarias and directed by Marti Lyons.

Karen Zacarías (Playwright) was recently hailed by American Theater Magazine as one of the most produced playwrights in the USA. Other plays in Chicago in 2017 include Destiny of Desire at The Goodman Theater, Into the Beautiful North (Until June 17) at 16th Street Theater and Just Like Us by Teatro Vision. Other plays include Mariela in the Desert (World Premiere, The Goodman), The Sins of Sor Juana (productions The Goodman Theater and Teatro Vista), The Book Club Play (16th Street Theater), Legacy of Light (National Steinberg citation winner), the adaptations of Just Like Us (Denver Center), and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent (Round House). She collaborated on the libretto for the ballets Sleepy Hollow and Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises for the Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and has written 10 TYA musicals with composer Deborah Wicks La Puma. Her plays have been produced at The Kennedy Center, The Goodman Theater, South Coast Rep, The Guthrie, Cincinnati Playhouse, RoundHouse Theater, GALA Hispanic Theater, Denver Theater Center, Dallas Theater Center and many more. Karen is a core founder of the Latino Theatre Commons, a national network that strives to update the American narrative to include the stories of Latinos. She is the founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater, an award-winning theater company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C. Karen lives in D.C. with her husband and three children.

Marti Lyons
(Director) is an ensemble member at The Gift Theatre Company and received the 2015 Maggio Directing Fellowship from Goodman Theatre. Chicago credits include The Mystery of Love and Sex (Writers Theatre), Title and Deed (Lookingglass Theatre Company), The City of Conversation (Northlight Theatre), Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Wit (The Hypocrites), Mine, Bethany and Body and Blood (The Gift Theatre Company), Hot Georgia Sunday, Seminar (Haven Theatre), Give it All Back, Mai Dang Lao, 9 Circles, Maria/Stuart, co-director for The Golden Dragon (Sideshow Theatre Company), Prowess, The Peacock, The Last Duck (Jackalope Theatre Company) and The Play About My Dad (Raven Theatre). Regional credits include Wondrous Strange (Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville).

Patrick Clear
(Frank Butley) returns to Victory Gardens where he previously appeared in Chekhov in Yalta, Woman in Mind, and Music from a Locked Room. Broadway credits include Noises Off and Hollywood Arms. Other Chicago credits include Carlyle, Race, Clean House, Meet Vera Stark, Teddy Ferrara, The Goat, and Dartmoor Prison (Goodman), By the Water (Northlight), Port Authority (Writers Theatre), Henry V, As You Like It, Madness of George III (Chicago Shakespeare), Seascape (Remy Bumppo). Regional credits include An Opening in Time (Hartford Stage), 12 Angry Men (Maltz Jupiter Theatre), 1776 (Asolo Rep), Heavens Were Hung in Black (Indiana Rep), Emma (Cleveland Playhouse), and Dancing at Lughnasa (Arena Stage). Film and TV credits include The Dark Knight, “Empire,” and “Chicago PD.”

Paloma Nozicka
(Tania Del Valle) is making her Victory Gardens debut. Chicago credits include The Snare, Exit Strategy, Long Way Go Down (Jackalope Theatre); Give It All Back, Antigonick (Sideshow Theatre); Bobbie Clearly (Steep Theatre); Our Lady of 121st Street (Eclipse Theatre); Teddy Ferrara (Goodman Theatre); The Play About My Dad (Raven Theatre). Regional credits include Boeing Boeing (Theatre Squared). Film & TV credits include The Secret Santa, “Chicago Med,” “Chicago PD,” “Empire,” and “Underemployed.”

Gabriel Ruiz (Pablo Del Valle) is a graduate of the Theatre School at DePaul University and an ensemble member of Teatro Vista. His Chicago credits include The Wolf at the End of The Block, White Tie Ball (Teatro Vista); Singin’ in the Rain, City of Angels (The Marriott Theater); Man in the Ring, Agamemnon (Court Theater); Arcadia, Company (Writers Theatre); The Upstairs Concierge (The Goodman Theater); Creditors (Remy Bumppo Theater); How Long Will I Cry?, Motherfucker with the Hat, The Way West (Steppenwolf Theater); Sita Ram (Chicago Children’s Choir); Working: The Musical (The Broadway Playhouse); Richard III, SS! A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Arabian Nights (Lookingglass Theater). Regional credits Native Gardens (The Cincinnati Playhouse); Harvey (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them (Forward Theater Company). Off-Broadway credits include Blood and Gifts (Lincoln Center). Film and TV credits include “Boss,” “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Justice” and “APB.” He will be seen next in The Rembrandt at Steppenwolf.

Janet Ulrich Brooks
(Virginia Butley) is a company member of TimeLine Theatre, where she has appeared in A Walk in the Woods, All My Sons, When She Danced, Not Enough Air, Weekend, Tesla’s Letters, Paradise Lost, Lillian, and A Man For All Seasons. Chicago credits include The Seagull and A True History of the Johnstown Flood (Goodman); The Original Grease (American Theatre Company); Pony (About Face); Jacob & Jack (Victory Gardens); Golda’s Balcony (Pegasus Players, Jeff Award Non- Equity wing – Outstanding Solo Performance); and work with Strawdog Theatre Company, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Writers’, Collaboraction, and others. Film and TV credits include Conviction, Polish Bar, I Heart Shakey, One Small Hitch, and Chicago Code. Janet received the first Ed See Outstanding Theatre Alumnus Award from the University of Central Missouri, and earned her MFA in acting from Western Illinois University.

Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring themes and issues within Victory Gardens’ productions. Connecting our theater to the world beyond the stage and rehearsal room, Public Programs bridge ideas, provoke dialogue, and deepen the relationship between our audiences and our productions.

Public Programs are free and open to the public and do not require an RSVP. Come to one or come to all. We’d love to have you!

Public Programs

Tuesday, May 23 | 7:00pm
Grab your friends and family and head on over to the Victory Gardens Theater’s Block Party in celebration of Karen Zacarías’s hilarious neighborly comedy Native Gardens. Enjoy some mouth-watering barbecue, backyard games, and, of course, an exclusive sneak peek at Native Gardens! Free and open to the public. Space is limited, RSVP is required.

After every performance of Native Gardens (unless otherwise noted)
Join us for one of our intimate post-show conversations. Led by members from the Victory Gardens community—artistic affiliates, Artistic staff, Teen Arts Council members, The Council of Community Leaders, and community partners— reflect on what you’ve seen and share your response.

Post-show Conversation | Following the evening performance of NATIVE GARDENS
Join playwright Karen Zacarías and Director of New Play Development Isaac Gomez as we talk inspiration, determination, and process after this evening’s performance of Native Gardens.

June 2-4 | Latinx Performance Celebration
Join us for an epic weekend of performance, conversation, and celebration as we welcome local and national Latinx artists as they share their work and tell their stories. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, June 6 | 6:30pm | Pre-show Exhibition
Join us for a pre-show beginners’ guide to urban gardening, and find the green thumb you never knew you had.

Thursday, June 8 | Pre-show Reception | Post-show Interactive Talkback 
What kind of neighbor do you want to be? Join us for a pre-show celebration of community and neighbors with food, drinks, and an interactive lobby display. After the performance of Native Gardens, stick around and get to know your neighbors during an immersive post-show workshop lead by local teaching artists.


Wednesday, June 14 | Post-show Conversation
Chicago is a city historically built on neighborhoods that were intended to segregate. Join us for this riveting post-show conversation as we are joined by urban planners, developers, activists and more as we unearth the truths that have kept us apart, and discovering dreams to unite us once more.

Thursday, June 15 | Post-show Performance
What fences do we put up in our daily lives? In our current political climate, how do we build bridges at our borders instead of walls? Join us after this evening’s performance of Native Gardens for riveting post-show spoken word poetry.


Saturday, June 24 | Post-show Performance
Laugh it up at this post-show performance as local Latinx comedians and sketch artists take the mic.

“FOUR STARS. Comedy Really Blooms. Blue-Ribbon Cast.”
Time Out Chicago

“HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. FOUR STARS. 90 Minutes of hilarity. BRAVO!”
“Set designed by William Boles is indeed a masterpiece.”
Around the Town Chicago

“AN UTTER DELIGHT. The writing is smart and the delivery is hilarious. Marti Lyons seduces us with her seamless direction. One of the most fun, funniest shows I’ve seen… Do yourself a favor and see it.”
PerformInk Chicago

“This is one funny show! A night at the theatre that will keep you laughing all the way back home.”
—Behind the Curtain

Native Gardens
Janet Ulrich Brooks, Patrick Clear, Gabriel Ruiz, and Paloma Nozicka in Native Gardens. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Native Gardens
Janet Ulrich Brooks and Paloma Nozicka in Native Gardens. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Native Gardens
Patrick Clear and Paloma Nozicka in Native Gardens. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Native Gardens
Janet Ulrich Brooks, Patrick Clear, Gabriel Ruiz, and Paloma Nozicka in Native GardensPhoto by Liz Lauren.

Native Gardens
Gabriel Ruiz and Paloma Nozicka in Native Gardens. Photo by Liz Lauren.