THE SEED THEATRE PROJECT
This weekend, The SEED Theatre Project will present the regional premiere of The Syringa Tree, by Pamela Gien. The thought provoking play is performed by one actress, Robin Smith, who portrays twenty-four different characters, all of whom speak, and sing, in a variety of languages & dialects. To further complicate this actress’ task, she performs without physical scenery and props, allowing the voices of her characters free to tell the story of Elizabeth Grace with only the external impact of light and sound to place these people in a time and place.
I spoke with Robin, along with Adam Leigh (director), Amy Brooks (dramaturg/assistant director) & Michelle Leigh (production manager) last weekend about The Syringa Tree. I am curious about the concept of this show, and I am very much looking forward to attending the performance to hear this amazing tale spun by so many characters on an empty stage with only one actress.
A description of the show, provided by SEED:
The Syringa Tree is a personal, deeply evocative story of an abiding love between two families, one black, one white, and the two children that are born into their shared household in the early 1960’s South Africa. Seen first through the eyes of a child, six-year old Elizabeth Grace, as she tries with humor and sometimes palpable fear, to make sense of the chaos, magic and darkness of Africa, we follow their destinies in a story that spans four generations, from early apartheid to the present day free South Africa.
The SEED crew is highly passionate about this piece, pointing out the similarities of the time & place of the story with our lives in Dayton, 2010. The play takes place in apartheid-bound Johannesburg, South Africa from the 1960’s through the mid-1990’s, as apartheid was lifted. The production staff points out that even as the characters in this play live in a world where boundaries are all they know, there is a love in this script that defies all racial boundaries…the play becomes timeless and boundless. It concerns itself more with the interconnectedness of people in a time and place where the disruption of apartheid created a disconnectedness with the land.
In their research on this work, Adam & Michelle Leigh began looking into the South African community within the Miami Valley. They were surprised to find out how many refugees are living in the Dayton area, some by choice and some by force.
“…it’s not over in South Africa. It’s not on the 6:00 news, but it still exists. Americans know apartheid exists, but not the details.”
Adam Leigh, the show’s director and founder of SEED states that their mission is to present entertainment, but at the same time taking the audience on a journey so that when they leave, they understand that we, in Dayton, experience the exact same issues today. The SEED Theatre productions will feature an Enter-Action Forum following each performance. The forum will be a time for the audience, the actors, the staff and other guests to discuss the issues presented in the play.
For more Information & Tickets, visit:
THE SYRINGA TREE (8pm, August 20-21 at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center) Tickets: $12 Call (937) 823-0081 or by visiting their ONLINE BOX OFFICE: ShowTix4u.com.
Please Note: This production contains adult language and themes. Viewer discretion is advised.
Visit http://www.seedtheatreproject.org for more information about the organization.
Visit The Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center for information about this amazing community center now open in Dayton. The Kroc Center is located at 1000 North Keowee Street, Dayton, Ohio 45404.
The Syringa Tree will be the first theatrical production to take place in the center. The staff of SEED Theatre indicated that they were very fortunate to the gracious people of the Kroc Center.
Shane Anderson & David Brush work with locally based Encore Theater Company. ETC recently moved into the new arts collective space in the Oregon District, along with Zoot Theatre Co. & Rhythm in Shoes. Anderson, Brush & ETC just concluded their summer season of new musicals in downtown Dayton, which featured Johnathan Larson’s RENT, [title of show] & the new musical in development Next Thing You Know.
Would you like to submit theater news for DaytonMostMetro.com’s onStageDayton features? Email Shane & Dave at onStageDayton@gmail.com