When Portland Staged halted mid-way through its four-week live run of “Native Gardens” last month in response to the threat of coronavirus, its four actors, three from New York City, were poised to return home early, but first it mounted one last private performance on Saturday, March 14, playing to a small audience of staff. The only other difference in this final performance were the two video camera operators, a few repeated scenes for special shots, and the sound recording equipment hidden on stage. Nothing else about the performance was changed. Administration then negotiated the rights to trade the digital production in lieu of pre-purchased tickets as well as to sell tickets to the digital stream on a pay-per-view basis limited to the number of seats the production had originally intended to sell. The production must expire on Sunday, April 12.

“Native Gardens” by Karen Zacarías dives headfirst into cultural and generational misunderstandings between two neighbors with a brilliant comedy set in the backyards of a densely-populated status-conscious Washington D.C. neighborhood.

Tickets to the digital stream of Native Gardens can be purchased online at portlandstage.org. To receive free tickets, health care workers are encouraged to email the box office for free comp tickets at boxoffice@portlandstage.org.

In an effort to continue to serve its community during the pandemic, Portland Stage has also brought its popular Saturday morning Education program, “Play Me a Story,” to Facebook Live on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. for free. Education artists are streaming from their homes. “Play Me a Story” gives children ages 4-10 the experience of theater as professional theater artists perform children’s stories and offer acting workshops. It builds literacy, encourages creativity and sparks dramatic dreams.  Formerly, “Play Me a Story” cost $15 for one child and an adult, and $8 per additional person, but currently it is being offered free as it streams online. Five hundred people participated in its first livestream on Saturday, March 28.

Cast and artists of :Native Gardens” are Pablo Del Valle played by Jose-Maria Aguila, Tania Del Valle played by Octavia Chavez-Richmond, Virginia Butley played by Laura Houck and Frank Butley played by Mitch Tebo. The production is directed Jade King Carroll.

Native Gardens will run digitally until midnight on Sunday, April 12. The production is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes with no intermission. Tickets can be purchase online at www.PortlandStage.org. Streaming is $40 with discounts for seniors, students, Rush35. There is a limited number of Pay-What-You-Can tickets. For Rush35, Pay-What-You-Can, and Healthcare Worker Comps email boxoffice@portlandstage.org. The box office is open 12-6 p.m., Tuesdays-Sundays – the staff is working from home. For more information email boxoffice@portlandstage.org or call (207) 774-0465.

Created by the Portland Stage Literary and Education departments, these extensive guides present a broad spectrum of information and perspectives on each play in our Mainstage season. PlayNotes appeals to a wide audience of student and adult readers who wish to delve more deeply into the plays on our stage. For “Native Gardens” PlayNotes, visit https://www.portlandstage.org/education/playnotes/.

46th season  Portland Stage offers Mainstage performances, New Works, and Education programs. The 2019-20 offers one co-production musical with Maine State Music Theatre, six Mainstage Productions, Staged Readings of its commissions, and Studio Series productions. PSC promotes and celebrates the creation of new plays with an environment that supports the region’s playwrights, builds bridges between its theater and national writers, and builds awareness of theater with three exciting initiatives: The Clauder Competition, the Little Festival of the Unexpected, as well as From Away, a festival in collaboration with the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa. This year, Portland Stage also celebrates its 10th season of the Susie Konkel Theater for Kids and the 100,000 student experiences it has provided in the last decade through the Theater for Kids. Memberships to Portland Stage are available. More than just a seat in the house, members gain insider access, great savings and flexibility. Visit portlandstage.org to learn more.

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