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Illinois Theater comedy exemplifies more diversity on stage

'Native Gardens' publicity photo from American Theatre.

URBANA – A theater production with Latinx representative characters premiered last weekend at the University of Illinois’ Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. It is part of a co-director’s effort to see more people of color on stage.

Native Gardens, a play written by Karen Zacarias, is a comedy that discusses race, class and privilege, between two neighbors over a fence line argument.

U of I Department of Theater professor Aaron Muñoz says Native Gardens was a play that the selection team was enthusiastic about.

Muñoz says people need something to laugh at due to last year’s ongoing events, such as the pandemic.

“When you’re in a theatre, when you’re in an even smaller community of people who are experiencing a story, you get to see things right away and that laugher is infectious.”

In addition, Muñoz says the theater department has been looking at how to show more representation on stage.

Muñoz says as someone who identifies as Latinx, and reviews play for them to be performed, it is important to have people with different perspectives.

“It is important to have a couple on stage who are brown and who speak English and with some Spanish. It is important because that is part of our world.”

He says the fact that it is a Latinx piece of art, only makes it stronger, but it does not separate any other plays that are done during this season.

Picture of Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez- Perez recently earned a B.S. in Journalism with a minor in Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is now pursuing his Master's in Journalism. Aside as an intern at Illinois Newsroom, Velazquez-Perez has written for The Daily Illini, Cicero Independiente and C-U CitizenAccess. He aspires to be a bilingual public radio journalist

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