Planting a garden of hopes and dreams
A children's theater production that has thrilled audiences from Cape Town, South Africa to Seattle, Washington, as well as smaller theaters throughout greater Minnesota, is coming to Detroit Lakes this week.
"Seedfolks," commissioned and developed by the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis in 2014, is based on a book of the same name by Newberry Award-winning author Paul Fleischman. It tells the story of 9-year-old Kim, who plants six lima bean seeds in a rat-infested, vacant lot next to the apartment building where her family lives, as a way of honoring the father she never knew.
"It's a one-woman show," says Amy Stoller Stearns, director of the Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes, where "Seedfolks" is set for its local debut this Thursday at 12:30 p.m. "But she plays 11 different characters."
The woman she's referring to is Ivey Award-winning actor Sonja Parks. "If you want to see really high quality acting, this is the show," Stearns added. "It really showcases her talents."
As each of the 11 characters step forward to share their stories, sowing seeds of hope and dreams, the garden begins to flourish.
"This is a beautifully written, funny and poignant book and production about the power we all have to be catalysts for change," says CTC Artistic Director and 'Seedfolks' Director, Peter C. Brosius. "We came to the decision to use one single actor to portray 11, diverse voices in this production as a demonstration that we are all part of a whole, and together, we can create something beautiful."
In addition to Thursday's premiere, there will be two additional opportunities to see the show in Detroit Lakes, on Friday, April 13 at 10 a.m., and Saturday, April 14 at 11 a.m.
"The first two shows will be geared toward students in our area schools (who will be bussed in for the performance), but anyone can buy a ticket," said Stearns. "Saturday's show is for the general public."
After its 3-day stop in Detroit Lakes, the "Seedfolks" tour will head to Red Wing and International Falls, Minn., before heading to New York City for an 8-day stint at the New Victory Theater on 42nd Street, then return to Minnesota to finish out the tour with stops in Brainerd and Dawson.
Local show sponsors are Detroit Lakes Public Utilities (DLPU), Missouri River Energy and SJE Rhombus, with additional funding provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Lake Region Arts Council, through the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage (Legacy) Fund.
"It was a pretty creative financial collaboration to bring this show here," Stearns said, noting that DLPU and Missouri River Energy sponsor the theater's Discovery Series of children's shows each year, while SJE Rhombus is sponsoring the public show. The CTC received a Minnesota State Arts Board touring grant to bring the show to nine theaters across Minnesota, including the Holmes, which also received Legacy funding from the LRAC for the local performances.
According to the Holmes Theatre's outreach director, Beth Horslev Gilbert, this funding also enabled them to work with the Pelican Rapids school district on a unique arts education project.
Seventy sixth grade students from Pelican Rapids, along with teacher Kayls Miltich and about a half dozen additional adult chaperones, will be making the trip to Detroit Lakes for Friday morning's show.
"A couple of months ago, the students received paperback copies of Paul Fleischman's original book, 'Seedfolks,' and were asked to read them," Gilbert said. "They will also be attending Friday's show for free, and afterwards, they will have an opportunity to meet with Sonja Parks one-on-one, ask her questions and visit with her about the show."
Parks will also be doing a "talk back" session with the audience at the end of both Thursday's and Saturday's shows, Gilbert added. Those sessions will take place in the theater, while the Pelican Rapids group will meet with Parks in the Holmes Ballroom.
Tickets for the Thursday and Friday "Seedfolks" student shows are $10 for adults and $5 for students; tickets for the all-ages show on Saturday are $15 for adults, $7.50 for students. For more information, please call 218-844-7469, visit the website at www.dlccc.org/holmes.html, or stop by the the Holmes Theatre Box Office at 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes.
Last but not least, after Saturday's show, there will be a wellness fair hosted by DL Thriving in the Holmes Ballroom, starting at 12:30 p.m. (see related story, this page). There is no cost to attend the wellness fair, which is open to the general public as well as theater audience members.