Getting to know new people is always amazing, but for this show specifically it’s been great working with others that share an ethnic background.”

If you’ve already seen Native Gardens, you might recognize Luis Maldonado as one of the Landscapers who gets caught in the neighborly crossfire. If you haven’t seen it yet, you still can this weekend! 

Several of Luis’s fellow cast members are also Hispanic or Latinx, including the actors playing the other Landscaper, Pablo, and Tania.

When I told my dad about this role and this play, one of his questions actually was, are there going to be Hispanic or Latinx people in the show?”

Luis’s dad, formerly a farm worker, has spent much of his life fighting to raise the quality of life for other Hispanic farm workers. The importance of representation in the play, says Luis, was demonstrated even by his father asking. Representation doesn’t only matter for Luis and his family, of course.

 It’s nice to showcase that there’s a diverse community here in terms of ethnic backgrounds. And that not everyone who is Hispanic/Latinx looks a certain way. That’s a big thing for me.”

For Luis, it’s also important to draw inspiration from other Hispanic people in developing his character. “Since it’s a comedy, there are some Hispanic/Latinx comics that I can learn from. George Lopez and Gabriel Iglesias are two big ones who come to mind immediately, because I’ve watched their material a handful of times looking for their physical comedy. That’s one advantage of having a role without lines – I get to really focus on how I’m telling the story with movement.” 

With so many relevant messages, what does Luis hope audiences take away from Native Gardens?

Native Gardens helps spark conversations that may be uncomfortable, but they’re sparked, they’re started, and then that idea can go from a tiny spark to potentially a flame, where it could also strengthen communities by bringing other like-minded people together.”

You can still see Native Gardens at the Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre until May 19th!