Freedom, NY
by Jennifer Barclay

In 12-year-old Portia hasn’t left her yard in a year.

After a brutal shooting in Portia’s school, her Grandmother, Justice Mayflower, kept her at home. Safe in the cocoon of their lush garden, they banished all contact with the outside world, and found everything they needed in each other. Their lives were safe and simple; they filled their days with flowers.

But then Gabriel moved in next door.

Gabriel, a young Mexican man full of joie de vivre, is in search of a new community and a resting place for his dead Mother. But his flagrant displays of “ethnic culture” and his striking resemblance to the gunman incite indignant chaos in 98% white Freedom, NY. At first, Mayflower does her best to approach him with an open mind, and encourages her neighbors to do the same. She is the town Judge, after all.

Despite Mayflower’s efforts, Gabriel is summarily shunned by the town, and starts to keep to his yard where he can focus on preparing for the upcoming ceremony of Dia de los Muertos. While Mayflower is busy tending to concerned citizens, Portia and Gabriel begin to forge an unlikely friendship across the property line. Gabriel speaks candidly to Portia of death, adulthood, and life beyond her borders – all things that Mayflower has tried to shield Portia from.

Mayflower panics and builds a fence between their yards. But even that doesn’t keep him away.

When Gabriel brings a coffin home, it is the final straw. Mayflower must abandon all neighborly decorum and use her power as Justice of the Peace to try to eliminate this threat once and for all. Gabriel does his best to explain his actions, but the cultural divide between them leaves him in peril.

In the end, it is Portia who dares to cross the fence and help Gabriel protect his freedom. His friendship has helped her to find the strength to leave her confined life behind, and set foot into the vast uncertain world.

Through the personal story of these neighbors, Freedom, NY examines the borders we draw to keep a safe distance between countries, yards, generations, life and death. The play asks: is it worth confining ourselves for the sake of safety