8 New Plays to Premiere in 4 Community Gardens in Manhattan and Brooklyn

Now in its fifth year, Communal Spaces: a garden play festival will premiere eight new short plays inspired by and performed in four community gardens in Manhattan and Brooklyn September 12 & 13, 19 & 20, 26 & 27.


Photo: Lee Rayment. Actors Rory Kulz & Karen Eilbacher.
Photo: Lee Rayment. Actors Rory Kulz & Karen Eilbacher.

Communal Spaces is an annual festival that commissions playwrights to write new plays inspired by specific community gardens around the city. Audience members may attend one play or several, traveling across the city or around the borough to each garden. Communal Spaces is produced by The Motor Company, Artistic Director Lillian Meredith.

Communal Spaces Schedule

Communal Spaces Square

About the Plays
Photo:Lee Rayment. Gabby Sherba, Rebeca Fong, and Elizabeth Seldin.
Photo:Lee Rayment. Gabby Sherba, Rebeca Fong, and Elizabeth Seldin.

Some of the gardens are haphazard while others are more manicured. They are like jungles, or barbecue hangouts, or magical hidden places. The plays reflect the unique feeling of their gardens, and turn the venue itself into a character.

WALK WITH ME?   My grandma is scratching filthy drawings into the hoods of precious cars, and somehow everything is better.  A little bit of a play, a little bit of a manifesto. Walk with me, and I’ll tell you all about it.

Sonder  A play about looking through people who ask for help.  What does it mean to be seen by someone that you try not to see?

Catfight at the Oasis  Joanne, the long-suffering garden administrator, has called yet another meeting to resolve the intractable stray cat debate. Will the Bird Lobby get felines expelled from the garden, or will Pro-Cat protestors win the day?

Welcome to The Fall  1973: A smokejumper crash-lands on the property of the world’s first meteor strike survivor.  Today: Your tour guide is about to lose her mind.

Derek and the Sheep  Derek travels through time to a future garden filled with singing, dancing, and sheep. A musical for all ages about trying to get home.

Classon vs. Klaxons  For too long, the robot overlords have ruled our city! Today, we fight for the garden. Everyone grab a watergun.

An Apple Today  Jacqueline needs to talk to her sister, Clara.  As Jacqueline struggles to open up, the women happen upon a former classmate who evokes memories of playground crushes and cruelties.

enter a garden  Things grow in the garden. Leaves turn from green to red to brown and fall to the ground. Life happens.

The mission of Communal Spaces: a garden play festival is three-fold. First, to make space integral to narrative; by using the garden as the primary inspiration for the story, the garden becomes a character, instead of merely a backdrop. Second, to make theater as public art; by presenting plays in municipal spaces we return to theater’s roots as a populist art form. Finally, to embrace the experience of being a New Yorker; by developing a relationship not only with specific urban spaces but also with the communities that thrive within them, by making theater that directly relates to and augments these spaces and encourages exploration of not only the gardens but the neighborhood beyond, we invite our audiences to consider their relationship to the city we all call home. Love your city. Love your gardens. Plant urban roots.

The Motor Company is dedicated to creating a producing theater that is accessible and community-oriented. Our mission is to heighten our relationship to our city and surroundings by using public spaces as the impetus for story-telling and theatrical events. Annual programs include Intimate Bar Plays, a series of overlapping pieces written for the dark corners of an East Village bar, and Communal Spaces festival of plays written for and performed in specific community gardens in Manhattan and Brooklyn. New events currently in development include Subway Series, a traveling performance of interlocking plays created for specific lines and stations along a Queens-Manhattan-Brooklyn commute.

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