It’s springtime, and in keeping with the season, the Seattle Children’s Theatre’s current production, Seedfolks, is ready to plant the seeds of imagination, kindness and generosity in the minds of all who see it. Based on the popular book by Paul Fleischman of the same title, this one-woman show demonstrates how it’s the simple things in life that bring us together. Read on for show-stopping deets.

photo: Dan Norman

The Story
It all starts with a little girl, some seeds and a derelict trash-littered lot in inner-city Cleveland. It’s a forgotten, immigrant neighborhood that’s seen better days and sadly lacks a sense of community as well as a sense of pride. But that all changes when a little girl, Kim, plants her seeds in memory of her father in a hidden corner of the old, abandoned lot.

When Kim leaves, Ana, the nosy neighbor lady, huffs down to the lot to dig up what she’s buried. Surprised that Kim’s treasure isn’t anything sinister, Ana feels guilty and enlists Wendell, a neighbor and school janitor, to help her fix—and make better—what she’s destroyed. And so begins a chain reaction of revitalization in a neighborhood that’s forgotten there’s more to life than living in a closed-off, trash-littered world.

Adapted from the book by the same name written by Paul Fleischman, Seedfolks is a story about how more than just plants can be cultivated in a community garden. Things like kindness, generosity and tolerance grow with every plant that pushes its way through the long-forgotten soil that’s been hidden beneath the rubbish.

photo: Dan Norman

One Woman, 15 Characters
There’s a lot of characters who live on this block, and Sonja Parks plays them all; all 15 of them—12 of which are immigrants from around the world. Young, old, black, white, Asian, Latino, Parks’ ability to shift from one character to the next is nothing short of impressive. And the fact that the sound and lighting crew can keep up with her is truly something to behold.

In telling these characters’ stories, Parks uses only pantomime and staging to take you on a journey from the first seed to the final curtain. And the energy with which she portrays each neighbor and their unique set of circumstances enriches their stories brilliantly.

photo: Dan Norman

Setting the Scene
The minimalism of the set and staging of this production helps to highlight the simplicity of this story. When you walk into the theater, you will immediately get a feel for what’s to come when the show begins: three flat-screen TVs wrap around a three-part, horseshoe-shaped, cinder-block-raised stage. Booming hip-hop tunes usher you to your seat and play until the lights go down.

The screens light up with a hand drawn cityscape that helps to tell the story. Forever-moving, 3-D digital renderings of red brick buildings, chain link fences, city sidewalks, and, in the forefront of it all, a vacant city lot further help tell the story. Each of the screens has a different vantage point of the locales that’s part of the story at any given time, moving up and down the city block past storefronts, and even the window from which the nosy neighbor surveys the neighborhood from. Inside the squared off stage, the characters plant their seeds, tend to their plots and convene as they break down the barriers of age, culture and preconceptions.

Good to Know
1. Seattle Children’s Theatre recommends this production for ages 8 & older.

2. Seedfolks is a 90-minute show with no intermission. It’s best to get little ones to the potty before the show starts.

3. For the shorter members of your group, SCT provides booster seats to help all eyes see the stage.

Seattle Children’s Theatre
201 Thomas St.
Seattle, Wa 98109
206-441-3322
Online: sct.org
Tickets: sct.org/tickets/buy/performance

Dates: Now through April 16, 2017
Times: Thurs.-Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.; Sun., Apr. 9 at 2 p.m. & 5:50 p.m.; Apr. 16 at 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $22-40/person (tickets can be purchased through SCT’s ticket office or online)

Do you have a story about building and supporting your community? Tell us in the Comments below! 

— Kelly Doscher