I recently went to a play at the Southern Rep Theatre in New Orleans entitled “Native Gardens” by Karen Zacarias. This brilliant comedy showcases some problems and divisions we are experiencing in our society today. Native Gardens looks at both sides of the story, or in this case, both sides of the fence. The show deals with border politics, ageism, sexism, racism, and everything in between.
In her play, Zacarias uses gardening as a way to introduce hot political topics in a way that does not upset or alarm her audiences. Her storyline is: Pablo, a high-powered lawyer, and Tania, his very pregnant wife, are realizing the American dream when they purchase a house next door to a retired couple, Virginia and Frank.
Pablo was born into a wealthy Chilean family but was disinherited when his parents discovered he was planning to marry Tania. She is a Hispanic American whose family has lived in New Mexico for more than 170 years but is still treated as second-class migrants.
At first, the Euro-American couple welcomes their new Latino neighbors and invites them over to have a glass of wine. When Pablo and Tania plan a barbeque in their backyard on Saturday, they discover something that sets off a nasty, escalating border war of words, threats and actions that challenge the whole notion of neighborliness. Both couples cast the other as racists, narrow-minded, belonging to the wrong political party, and not raised like them.
Pablo discovers that the fence separating their properties is in the wrong place and he wants to put up a new fence in the proper location. He also wants a new fence put up before the weekend when they are planning this backyard barbeque for his fellow lawyers.