Hi - Martie here!
Here’s a little history about Green Scene Chicago's "theater in a garden" and me.
I’m an actress and storyteller. Since 1986 I’ve performed in Chicago and Midwest theaters - Lookingglass, Chicago Shakespeare, American Theater Company, Madison Rep, and Purple Rose to name a few. I also co-founded an all-woman story telling troupe called Sweat Girls and we perform autobiographical stories in different venues throughout Chicago.
My other love is gardening. When I'm tending to the earth my mind is at rest and my imagination is inspired to fly. Gardens foster patience and openness to improvisation ... stuff that’s also needed for stagecraft!
The idea of plants as "green scenery" is not a new one, but this concept took hold in my plans as I became a Master Gardener. I began developing and teaching garden/arts programs to children (K-12) in gardens all around Chicago. I began creating plays with the kids in garden spaces too. Eventually I met with Alderman Harry Osterman of the 48th Ward and pitched the concept of a "theater garden" where we'd produce on two levels: food and shows! I could share the site with my theater making peers and with gardeners in the community. In March of 2013, the Alderman asked me to transform an abandoned lot in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood into a community garden and a permanent space for my Green Scene Chicago practice.
To start the transformation I recruited neighborhood families, local schools, Root Riot mentors, friends and hired teenage apprentices with funding from After School Matters. For four summers now "Winthrop Harmony Arts Garden" has bloomed and now has seven neighborhood families, four community based organizations, and my teen apprentices gardening there. It is thriving with an abundance of growth and performances presented free to the public.
I am so grateful for all the support I've received from Alderman Harry Osterman, the Illinois Arts Council, the Department of Cultural Affairs, Whole Kids Foundation, After School Matters and the Muhammad Ali and Puffin Foundations. Also my friends, NeighborSpace, the Root Riot crews, the teen engine of builders, and particularly the neighbors and community based organizations that joined me in Uptown. I'm dedicated to growing Green Scene Chicago and the community connections it is fostering with youth, seniors, and artists. Won't you help me create a green scene? If you would like to donate time, money, plants, or services --- please connect with me via email!