Renaissance Theaterworks
Press Release

Renaissance Theaterworks’ Opens 2018-2019 Season with a Hot-Button Comedy

Cultures and gardens clash, turning well-intentioned neighbors into feuding enemies in Karen Zacarías’ new play, NATIVE GARDENS running October 19 – November 11, 2018 at Renaissance Theaterworks. Scenic Designer & Props Master work to maintain a living garden in the Broadway Theatre Center’s “Black Box” Studio Theatre this autumn

By - Oct 2nd, 2018 10:04 am

Milwaukee, Wis. (October 1, 2018) – Renaissance Theaterworks (RTW) will open its 26th Season themed, “She Blinded Me With Science,” in October with Karen Zacarías’ topical comedy, NATIVE GARDENS. Directed by local actor, director and teaching artist, Marti Gobel, NATIVE GARDENS will feature Linda Stephens, Norman Moses, Kelsey Elyse Rodriguez, and Andrew Joseph Perez, as two sets of neighbors quarreling over their gardening preferences and an inaccurate property line. Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of NATIVE GARDENS runs October 19 – November 11, 2018 in the Studio Theater at the Broadway Theatre Center (158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, Wis.).

Pablo (Perez) Del Valle, a rising attorney, and Tania (Rodriguez), his very pregnant wife, have just purchased a home next to Frank (Moses) and Virginia (Stephens) Butley, a well-established D.C. couple with a prize-worthy English garden. But an impending barbeque for Pablo’s colleagues and a delicate disagreement over a long-standing fence line soon spiral into an all-out border dispute, exposing both couples’ notions of race, taste, class, and privilege. Critic Chris Jones with the Chicago Tribune says “it’s one of the very few contemporary comedies about racism, sexism, ageism and cultural privilege.”

Zacarías’ script is clever, offering moments of pure humor while underscoring numerous cultural, political, and societal topics of conflict that relate to our world today. With some light-hearted notes and moments of empathy within each character, NATIVE GARDENS explores many topical issues such as age and race profiling, cultural assumptions and insensitivities, disparity of ambition and advancement by class and gender, and even judgements and biases of political allegiance, to name a few. In short, NATIVE GARDENS holds a mirror to many of the offenses we are guilty of committing with our own neighbors in our current political state and allows for a safe, healthy, and informed perspective around such issues.

And although you can’t always choose your neighbors, you can choose your seats for NATVE GARDENS. Tickets are currently on sale through the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office (158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, Wis, 414-291-7800 or For more information, visit


NATIVE GARDENS Scenic Designer, Madelyn Yee has crafted a set design fit for the script, involving two backyards in full bloom. Yee’s design, along with Zacarías’ script have presented a unique challenge for Props Master, Melissa Centgraf and her assistant, Kayleigh Kitzman. This team of professionals must efficiently create, foster, and maintain living plants in a dark, windowless room during the chilly, autumn months of October and November. “Our goal is to create an atmosphere fit for the play,” Centgraf shares, “so that when the audience walks into the Studio Theatre, they are greeted with the smells and sights of a real garden.” The flora will consist of both living and synthetic plants, creating a sort of “hybrid” garden. When plants are not on stage or in use, they will reside under grow lights to maintain their foliage. “Our challenge lies in keeping what’s real and alive in that state throughout the run of the show.” Renaissance Theaterworks’ backstage crew will be trained to manage the plants throughout the show so that every audience experiences a full and vibrant set.

To learn more about NATIVE GARDENS or Renaissance Theaterworks, visit

NATIVE GARDENS by Karen Zacarías
WHEN: October 19 – November 11, 2018

Preview Performances: Friday, October 19 at 7:30 PM & Saturday, October 20 at 4:00 PM
Opening Night Performance: Saturday, October 20 at 8:00 PM
Evenings: Wednesday – Friday, 7:30 PM – select Saturdays, 8:00 PM
Matinees: Saturday 4:00 PM, Sunday 2:00 PM, select Wednesday 1:00 PM

WHERE: Studio Theatre of the Broadway Theatre Center (158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, Wis.)

TICKETS: Single tickets $40 (plus tax and fees), groups (10+), student, and senior discounts are available upon request.

Online at or

By phone: 414-291-7800, Monday – Saturday, 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

In person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, Wis. Monday – Saturday, 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM or 1 hour before show time.


Karen Zacarías is one of the most produced playwrights in the nation. She is one of the inaugural Resident Playwrights at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and is a core founder of the LATINX THEATRE COMMONS. She is the founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater, an award winning theater company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, DC. Her award-winning plays include the sold-out/extended comedy THE BOOK CLUB PLAY, the sold-out world premiere drama JUST LIKE US (adapted from the book by Helen Thorpe) at Denver Theater Center, the Steinberg – Citation award play LEGACY OF LIGHT, the Francesca Primus Award winning play MARIELA IN THE DESERT, the Helen Hayes Award winning play THE SINS OF SOR JUANA, the adaptation of Julia Alvarez’s HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS LOST THEIR ACCENTS. Karen also has a piece in the Arena Stage premiere of OUR WAR. Her Theater for Young Audience (TYA) musicals with composer Debbie Wicks la Puma include JANE OF THE JUNGLE, EINSTEIN IS A DUMMY, LOOKING FOR ROBERTO CLEMENTE, CINDERELLA EATS RICE AND BEANS, FERDINAND THE BULL, and FRIDA LIBRE. Her musical CHASING GEORGE WASHINGTON premiered at The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and went on a National Tour.

DIRECTOR – Marti Gobel
STAGE MANAGER – Martinique M. Barthel*
LIGHTING DESIGN – Noele Stollmack^
PROPS MASTER – Melissa Centgraf
ASST. PROPS MASTER – Kayleigh Kitzman
COSTUME DESIGN – Leslie Vaglica
DRAMATURG – Mike Fischer
VIRGINIA BUTLEY – Linda Stephens*
FRANK BUTLEY – Norman Moses*
TANIA DEL VALLE – Kelsey Elyse Rodriguez
PABLO DEL VALLE – Andrew Joseph Perez*
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association
^ Member of United Scenic Artists of America and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees

Renaissance Theaterworks is Milwaukee’s only professional, nonprofit theater company centered on improving gender parity. The mission of RTW is to create moving theater that connects with our shared sense of being human. We are dedicated to promoting the work of women onstage and off. Renaissance Theaterworks produces thought-provoking, intimate theater in the Studio Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center. For more information, please visit

Renaissance Theaterworks is a member of the National New Play Network, Theater Wisconsin, Playwrights Welcome, and the Historic Third Ward Association. We receive support from the United Performing Arts Fund, Brico Fund, CAMPAC, the Evinrude Foundation, The Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the Richard & Ethel Herzfeld Foundation, Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation, Milwaukee Arts Board, Sempercor Foundation, the Shubert Foundation, the Steigleder Charitable Trust, Wisconsin Arts Board, and private donors and foundations.

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