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1 young girl, a handful of seeds and a heart full of heart: Children's Theatre Company presents 'Seedfolks' May 19

Acclaimed Twin Cities actress Sonja Parks embodies the 11 distinct voices of Gibb Street when the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis presents “Seedfolks,” May 19 at Central Lakes College. Submitted

The Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center concludes it 2017-18 Cultural Arts Series when the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis presents "Seedfolks," with one performance on May 19.

The 65-minute play will perform at 11 a.m. in the Chalberg Theatre on the Brainerd campus of Central Lakes College.

Based on the Newbery Medal-winning book by Paul Fleischman, "Seedfolks" is about an immigrant neighborhood in Cleveland transformed by a community garden. Acclaimed Twin Cities actress Sonja Parks embodies the 11 distinct voices of Gibb Street in this enthralling, one-woman production, directed by Peter C. Brosius.

For Brosius, this book has long been one he wished to stage.

"This is a beautifully written, funny and poignant book about the power we all have to be catalysts for change," Brosius said in a news release. "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."

"Seedfolks" begins when 9-year-old Kim plants the first seeds in the rat-infested, vacant lot

next to her apartment building. They are six lima bean seeds, planted in honor of the father she never knew. Slowly, each member of the community finds a reason to plant their own seeds, resurrecting a derelict lot and uniting a fractured neighborhood. The story consists of 11 different

narratives around the shared experience of creating a true neighborhood jewel out of what was

an eyesore, all deftly portrayed by Parks.

Parks walks on the stage of "Seedfolks" and asks a manager to bring up the stage lights and dim the house. Then she tells the audience she is about to tell them a story about a place that may remind them of where they live.

"This neighborhood is in Cleveland," Parks will state. "What happens in this neighborhood, this neighborhood right here, is happening right now."

Immediately the theater will fill with music mixed with the roar of construction work and blaring car horns—sound perfect for a gritty story of a struggling community of people who live around a garbage-strewn lot in Cleveland.

With that, Parks begins an extraordinary theatrical odyssey in which she transforms herself over and over, the release stated. There are no costume changes. Instead, Parks uses speech,

posture and gestures to convincingly migrate between characters—from an 9-year-old Vietnamese girl, to a geriatric Eastern European busybody. Parks also plays a street-wise but lovesick bodybuilder, a world-weary school janitor from Kentucky and myriad others.

Sometimes in mid-sentence, Parks transforms from a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl to an 80-something Romanian woman, a retired Jewish man to a Latino teen and back again, it stated.

"It's kind of an actor's dream, and an actor's nightmare at the same time," Parks stated. "And

it starts, as most kind of big concepts do, with a very small thing. A little girl just wanting to feel connection with her father."

The girl is Kim, who never knew her dad. He was a farmer who died before she was born. She decides to honor his memory by planting beans in the only soil she can find—the garbage lot near her building.

She digs the frozen ground with the only tool she can find, a spoon.

The play is recommended for children in third through eighth grades, but may be enjoyed by children and adults of all ages.

Tickets are available through CLC Theatre Box Office at 218-855-8199, and are also available online at www.clcperformingarts.com.

The show is sponsored Essentia Health. The CLC Performing Arts Center season is made possible in part by an operating grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.