Posts Tagged Sara Sparks

Native Gardens – Play Review

Playwright Karen Zacaria’s “Native Gardens”, currently playing at The Center for Performing Arts in Mountain View, explores ageism, racism, sexism, classism, republicanism, democratism and more  in the context of an unintended property line conflict among neighbors.

Image result for native gardens, theatreworksTania (Marlene Martinez) and Pablo Del Valle (Michael Evans Lopez) are young, up and coming Latino couple, each with their own past that colors their perceptions. Pablo is from Chile and grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. He is angling for a partnership at a law firm and is slightly paranoid of how he will be accepted, given his Latino background. Tania is very pregnant, is nearing the completion of her Ph.D. in anthropology, and grew up in much poorer circumstances in New Mexico. She is idealistic, new agee, strongly pro-environment, and into native plants. Tania and Pablo own a property adjoining Virginia (Amy Resnick) and Frank Butley (Jackson Davis). Virginia and Frank are older couple with a prize-worthy English garden and are Republicans.

Image result for native gardens, theatreworksWell intentioned neighbors’ attempts for friendship soon melt away as an unintended property dispute arises. Given that garden is important to both couples, albeit in different ways, “Native Gardens” is a comedy rooted in tulipanin (common allergen toxic to some animals, found in tulips) laced barbs, and tannic acid (residing in acorns and leaves of oak trees that helps guard it from fungi and insects) colored retorts.

Zacarias is a compassionate writer and she treats both couples with a measure of empathy, compassion and understanding. Yet, what is fascinating is how gradually and in a measured way and yet how quickly and not so subtly, the conflict escalates and breaks down relations, as both couples dig deep into their personal treasure trove of isms and even political affiliations, to assume bad intentions of others and find new insults.

Image result for native gardens, theatreworksDirector Amy Gonzalez has done a fabulous job, with the script in showing how easy it is, despite all the wisdom and maturity, for people to get polarized, to buy into the divisive rhetoric in the air that may reflect their own latent biases, prejudices and distrust of one another. Special kudos for incredible staging to Sara Sparks and Amy Smith Goodman.

In the current climate of deepening rifts and many symbols of “us versus them” (border wall, trade barrier, cages, guns, armed guards in schools, red wave, blue wave and more), the play uses yet another powerful symbol of a fence.  If this play is to serve as a microcosm of what is going on in the country, then such physical articulations not only define our distinctions but when combined with divisive rhetoric and incitement of fear, they serve as call to action, to fiercely protect our zones, perimeters, boundaries and borders. However in the play, as if bringing a perfect measure of hope, it highlights how sometimes humanity springs in the most unlikeliest of circumstances, during those times when we need one another. And in those times when we seek help and when we offer help, in times of unity, our gardens bloom.
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This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season. For tickets, go to .


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Romeo & Juliet – Play Review and Information about Shady Shakespeare Theater Co.

Shady Shakespeare Theater Company produces outstanding performances of the works of Shakespeare, in the park, in Silicon Valley, with a commitment to making Shakespeare accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.  It was found in 1999 by Dinna Myers, Sara Betts and Jeff Day.  It is a 501 (C) 3, non profit organization and almost entirely run by volunteers.  Many of the performances take place in beautiful and cozy setting at Sanborn Park, in Saratoga.   Shady Shakespeare Theater Company is funded by corporate grants, philanthropic activities, fundraising, and private donations.  Besides outstanding shows in the park, the organization is also involved in school outreach program to bring the excitement of live theater into the classrooms.   This is done through summer Shakespeare camps for kids and teens, through modular classes that schools can choose, and through after school theater performance programs at schools.


I have seen many absolutely incredible performances by Shady Shakespeare Theater Company.  Some of the memorable ones include, King Lear – , and Lion in Winter – .  Romeo and Juliet is currently playing till the end of August, 2013, at Sanborn Skyline County Park in Saratoga and you can purchase tickets at . It is directed by Jeanie Smith and John Bernard is the Lighting Designer.  Robert Campbell in the role of Romeo and Michael Camplin in the role of Mercutio are incredible.  However, it is Celia Maurice as Juliet’s nurse and Briana Mitchell in the role of Juliet who carry the show.  They are both simply outstanding and give completely engaging, flawless performance.  Celia Maurice as modern day Juliet looks stunning.  Sara Sparks and Christopher Tani are the stage managers and have done a great job, on low budget.  We hope you will support Shady Shakespeare with your donation, with volunteerism, with spreading the word, and by going to watch their performances.


Quotes from Romeo & Juliet


If you love Shakespearean language as I do, with its vivid expression, rich metaphors that link the concepts, poetic free verse that makes it highly emotive and rhetorical, flowery and dramatic; if you love the sheer beauty of the language, then below is a short synopsis of Romeo & Juliet with some selected quotes.


Don’t miss this beautiful performance where “two houses both alike in dignity” clash, but young lovers from two warring houses of Montagues and Capulets, fall in love, and Juliet laments, “my only love, sprung from my only hate.”   When Romeo hears her speak from her balcony, “O Romeo, Romeo!  Wherefore art thou Romeo?” he is readily willing to give up his name, as Juliet says the famous lines, “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.”  Juliet makes Romeo swear of his faithfulness, but not “by the moon, the inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circled orb, lest that thy love prove likewise variable,” but instead, she says, “swear by thy gracious self, which is the god of my idolatry.”  Their love is so alike in the height and depth of intensity that young lovers frequently experience, including their loathing to part, “good night, good night!  parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”  Later, Juliet bids her nurse to get news from Romeo, but the nurse painfully tortures her by delaying sharing the news, and Juliet laments about the slowness of old folks, “old folks – many feign as they were dead; unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.”  Friar Laurence ominously warns the young lovers to temper down the intensity of their passion, for “these violent delights have violent ends, therefore love moderately; long love doth so; too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.” 


And then this beautiful dialogue between Romeo & Juliet, when Romeo comes to spend the night with her, after their wedding, but must leave at the crack of dawn, and tells Juliet he hears the lark, but Juliet persuading him to stay some more, says, “It was the nightingale, and not the lark, that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear,” and Romeo responds, “Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops”.  Juliet finally acknowledges that Romeo must leave, “It is the lark that sings so out of tune, straining harsh discords and unpleasing sharps.”  While leaving, Romeo assures her that they will meet again and have many years to talk about their current troubles “and all these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our time to come.”  Later when Romeo hears that Juliet is dead, he persuades the apothecary to sell him poison and the apothecary reluctantly agrees, saying “my poverty, but not my will, consents.” Romeo responds, “I pay thy poverty, and not thy will.”   Don’t miss a chance to hear the beautiful language and see once again the performance of this most famous love story of all times, for “there never was a story of more woe, than this, of Juliet and her Romeo.”  For tickets, go to



Romeo & Juliet

Romeo & Juliet (Photo credit:

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