Unlikely Duo Takes The Stage At TheaterWorks Hartford

Belén Dumont


HARTFORD—Theatergoers can expect a heartwarming, off-beat comedy this winter in The Garbologists, which premieres at TheaterWorks Hartford on Thursday, February 1.

An exploration of identities, privileges, hierarchies—and how these intersect—The Garbologists follow an unlikely pair working in sanitation who unexpectedly discover a mutual understanding between themselves.

Danny is a gruff, white, male, experienced NYC sanitation worker with a tough exterior while Marlowe is a driven Black, female, Ivy-League-educated “newbie” who has been assigned to Danny’s route. Written by Lindsay Joelle and directed by Rob Ruggiero, the performance runs from February 1 to February 25.  

Playwright Joelle said she is inspired and intrigued by the experiences of individuals who can go unnoticed, unappreciated, or misunderstood by society. 

Bebe Nicole Simpson as Marlowe in The Garbologists. Photo Courtesy of TheaterWorks Hartford.

The Garbologists follows a consistent theme in her work as she believes in “taking people that seem, at first glance, very ‘other’—either to each other or to the audience—and then seeing how quickly you can forget that and put yourselves in their shoes and feel like you are on this journey with them so by the end, you have an increased awareness and increased empathy.”

“So you hear this story, ‘Oh, it’s about trash,’ ‘it’s about people who work in garbage.’ But in reality…it’s a story about human experiences,” shared Garbologists Set Designer Marcelo Martínez García.

Set in New York City, the creative team looked to express the city’s natural urban and chaotic energy on stage. Although there’s trash in the scenes, García said they were intentional of staying away from “gross” garbage and instead choosing objects that could be more reflective of the work that sanitation workers do.

“We really didn’t want [the trash] to feel…disgusting or portray this job as if it was that but more of the human, urban, working class,” he said. Discarded objects in the show are also meant to highlight and comment on the division within social classes. In richer communities, “there’s things that you would be like, ‘why would someone throw that out?’” García pointed out. 

Jeff Brooks as Danny in The Garbologists. Photo Courtesy of TheaterWorks Hartford.

Aligning with the show’s theme of hidden gems, the set design incorporates materials from past performances, recycling and revitalizing leftover pieces to efficiently create the snowy New York City scene. 

“I don’t want to say that we reused junk—we found treasures and things that have been used before and now they’re being repurposed to create this world,” explained García. “And there’s some magic that’s going to happen…so we will have fun on the stage.” 

The cast includes Jeff Brooks as Danny and Bebe Nicole Simpson as Marlowe, who are both making their TheaterWorks Hartford debuts. Performances run for 90 minutes without intermission at the historic 233 Pearl Street Theater. 

“What I love most about the play is the way it digs into this compelling relationship between two unlikely people and how they find a way to authentically connect,” shared Ruggiero. “Their world isn’t one we often see – the strenuous and frequently dangerous work of sanitation workers. It’s a warm, wonderful story filled with surprising revelations about the human spirit.”

Learn more and purchase tickets at www.twhartford.org/ or by calling 860-527-7838. 

Publisher’s Notes: CT Latino News is proud to partner with TheaterWorks Hartford in supporting the state’s Arts and Culture.