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Guest Blog: Seedlings Playwright Joanna Garner

On Sunday, August 27 at 11 am, Seedlings Summer Playreadings continue with Joanna Garner’s The Orange Garden. This play is a magical and powerful look at a Peace Corps volunteer who travels to Iran in 1972 to escape the Vietnam draft, and finds himself caught up in a cultural whirlwind of danger and forbidden passion. But upon returning to America, he becomes lost between two very different worlds.

The play has already garnered lots of attention–it received the 2016 Keene Prize for Literature and was included on the 2016 Kilroy’s List. So we were thrilled that Joanna, currently based in Austin, wanted to workshop her play with us here in the Santa Monica Mountains. We paired Joanna up with director Rachel Berney Needleman, and although our work on this beautiful script began well before Joanna arrived, this week has been pretty amazing for all of the artists involved. We’re very pleased that Joanna feels the same:

The hardest part of being a theater maker for me is the requirement that much of my work has to be done in a dark, windowless room. I leave rehearsal tired, sun-sick, depleted. My short development period at Theatricum has been a revelation.

What if I don’t have to choose between art and nature? What if, when I’m stuck, I can just look up at the trees for inspiration? How does the wind and the sun and a small frog and a lizard and two squirrels sliding down the hill feed a play, and more so, us as artists and audiences?

In my play “The Orange Garden,” the Iranian character Haideh describes the different between her family’s garden (beautiful but held by stone walls) and a grove of oranges in the countryside that feels like it stretches forever. In order for our minds to open, maybe we need a lack of boundaries. We need to be able to look up and see leaves, branches, and a wide expanse of everything.

Rehearsal for Joanna Garner's "The Orange Garden"

Rehearsal for Joanna Garner’s “The Orange Garden”

The reading, held in our intimate S. Mark Taper Foundation Pavilion, is FREE. Enjoy refreshments, meet the artists and share your thoughts and ideas to become part of the new play process at Theatricum.

For more information on Botanicum Seedlings, including our Dramaturgy Workshop beginning in September, click HERE. You can also connect with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram @botseedlings.

Video by Kevin Hudnell