Seeds by Anne Yumi Kobori

SEEDS by Anne Yumi Kobori presented by Utopia Theatre Project at PianoFight – March 9-24.

Cast:

Marsha – Melissa Ortiz *

Robert – Christian Haines

Thom – Elliott Hanson

Betsy – Laura Jane Bailey *

Corey – Scott Ragle *

Emma – Linda Maria Giron

Matt – Jeremy Howard

Carolyn – Ella Ruth Francis

Jake – Alex Blaine

*These actors appear with the special permission of the Actors’ Equality Association

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I found the story of Seeds to be truly a unique and well-done play, although slightly confusing because the story traveled from France to the UK to the USA all during WWII. The backdrop projected scenes at the start of every scene, which allowed me to follow the location/story.

The character development was well done, as the story goes on you piece together how the characters know each other. You develop empathy and not just for the female character. I found myself emotionally invested in the male characters too. Especially the ones you think at the beginning that you won’t, as the play goes on you feel more and more empathy for them.

I liked that the story addressed homophobia in WWII as well as rape and the PTSD that soldiers had to come home and deal with.  Unlike today, the idea of being gay was something you hid or something you could “fix.” The idea that “you will get over it” was a common idea used during the play. The play also tackled the issue of rape and how “things happen during war.” The soldiers came back and made excuses for why things were done, but rarely do we see the pain from the people left behind. Then because of PTSD, some of the soldiers returning home had a hard time adjusting to society. For example; one soldier discovered he was gay while overseas. Another soldier discovers he cant be intimate with his wife, due to his memories of abusing another woman overseas. You see the fallout of the relationships between characters: solider and wife, soldier and mother, soldier and soldier who is his best friend.

During the Q&A session, when Anne Yumi Kobori, the writer was asked why she wrote this story and why WWII. Her response was that as a decedent of a Japanese internment camp survivor she wanted to show “pain and suffering” from another point of view. She wanted to show the impact WWII had on the rest of the world.

When the writer was asked why she named her <span id=”yiv3133667382gmail-50″ class=”yiv3133667382gmail-gr_ yiv3133667382gmail-gr_50 yiv3133667382gmail-gr-alert yiv3133667382gmail-gr_gramm yiv3133667382gmail-gr_inline_cards yiv3133667382gmail-gr_run_anim yiv3133667382gmail-Grammar yiv3133667382gmail-only-ins yiv3133667382gmail-replaceWithoutSep”>play</span> Seeds (as it was only mentioned once during the 1.5-hour show) her response was that she liked the line in the play where Robert gives Marsha some seeds and Marsha remarks on how “ugly” they are and Robert responds by saying, “its okay, they will grow into beautiful flowers.”

If anything this is a true metaphor for the entire play. Things might start off ugly or you may have done something ugly in your past but true beauty can blossom from even the ugliest seed. A soldier who discovers he is homosexual can find caring and compassion. A victim of abuse can find that true love is sometimes just next door. A soldier can overcome a horrible past memory and can re-bond with his wife.

I recommend seeing this play; Seeds at its core, truly has a beautiful message. The cast portrays the emotions of each character above and beyond. The stage set is spare but the set changes are clever and the costumes speak to the era.  The fact that the actors are so close to you adds that emotional investment from you into them.

About the Author

Carol BenetCarol Benet received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, where she won an Outstanding Teaching Award. She also received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. Her teaching assignments have been at UC Berkeley, UC Berkeley Extension, Dominican University and Washington State University. Currently she holds literature discussion groups in Marin County and San Francisco and is a critic of the arts for The Ark Newspaper and a contributor to ARTSSF.com and ForAllEvents.com.View all posts by Carol Benet →