Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Utopia Theatre Project Presents SEEDS This Month

Utopia Theatre Project Presents SEEDS This Month

Utopia Theatre Project is concluding their inaugural season with the world premiere of Seeds. This original work by a new Bay Area playwright explores the contemporary themes of sexual identity, masculinity, and sexual assault, all through the lens of World War II. Seeds was previously performed in 2016 as a Staged Reading at PianoFight and in the New Playwrights' Festival at Santa Clara University.

Emerging Japanese-American playwright, Anne Yumi Kobori spans America, England, and France in the telling of Seeds, which follows a group of allied soldiers who become bound by a terrible secret. Nine actors embody four women and five men all who are struggling to make sense of their wartime experiences. They are conflicted on whether or not to keep their disturbing memories in the past in order to move on with their lives. They find that even the deepest buried secrets have the capacity to sprout and come to light. This ensemble-driven play weaves in and out of time to unearth the painful truth at the center of each character.

Kobori says, "My artistic impulse with Seeds was to write into the paths ordinary people take to rebuild their lives after cataclysmic acts of violence - both global and personal. I hope to create a dialogue about the possibilities of forgiveness for the perpetrators of violence as well as the victims."

Seeds takes a compassionate and sometimes humorous view of not only the soldiers who are impacted by war, but also the women who are their family, lovers, and casualties. In the exploration of the impact of war on human relationships, Seeds joins in the movement to listen to, and believe in, women's stories.

Maryssa Wanlass says, "As the artistic director of Utopia Theatre Project I take great pleasure in bringing together diverse and talented artists. Seeds is an ensemble-based play which follows more than one storyline set in WWII. I'm intrigued by the way Anne and her talented team bring this community of interconnected characters to life."

Cast Members:

Seeds features performances by Bay Area favorites Laura Jane Bailey*, Ella Francis, Linda Maria Giron, Elliott Hanson, Jeremy Alan Howard, Melissa Ortiz*, and Christian Haines*.

Laura Jane Bailey as Betsy

Laura Jane Bailey* most recently performed with Aurora Theatre in Luna Gale (Cindy) and Mud Blue Sky (Angie), TheatreWorksSV in Crimes of the Heart (Chick), San Francisco Playhouse in Man of LaMancha (Governor), City Lights Theatre Company in Fat Pig (Helen), Crowded Fire in Juan Gelion Dances For The Sun (Abbess), Boxcar Theatre in Equus (Dora/Hester), Arabian Shakespeare in The Message (Lylee), Dragon Theatre in Les Laisions Dangereuses (Merteuil), and Bad Dates (Haley Walker) and Impact Theatre in Crevice (Kathleen) for which she won a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle award. Originally from Chicago, she performed in Famous Door's Cider House Rules and with Cobalt Ensemble Theatre's Tattoo Girl, I Am Yours, and Raised in Captivity. Jane studied at Actors' Center Chicago, Second City, Improv Olympic and graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Ella Ruth Francis as Carolyn:

Ella Ruth Francis is making her Utopia Theatre Project debut in Seeds. She is currently playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival). Ruth is a graduate of the Professional Actor Training Program at the Pacific Conservatory Theatre on the central coast.

Linda Maria Girón as Emma:

Linda Maria Girón past credits include: María in La Posarela (SFBATCO), Jennifer Sanchez in How To Be A White Man (Faultline Theater) and Feste in Twelfth Night: Acoustic Rock Musical (Actors Ensemble of Berkeley). A rising playwright, Girón extends her passion for exploring Latinx identity in her works: white iris and Memoria del Silencio.

Elliott Hanson as Corey:

Elliott Hanson performed in Parade with the Huntington Theatre Company, Charlie Cox Runs With Scissors in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and The Soap Myth alongside television legend Ed Asner in a Marin Theatre Company co-production. He organized and performed in a traveling musical theatre showcase throughout Madrid.

Jeremy Alan Howard as Matt

Jeremy Alan Howard performed in Theatre Rhinoceros' production of The Normal Heart. He performed in numerous shows at Chapman University, most notably Intimate Apparel, Picnic, and RENT. Other significant credits include: Hamlet (Shakespeare Orange County), Spring Awakening (Top Hat 8 Repertory), and Left Behind, Waiting (OC Centric).

Christian Haines* as Jake:

Christian Haines* Is the winner of 2016 TBA Award for Outstanding Male Actor in Value Over Replacement at PlayGround. He performed in The Moonrisers, The Seagull (Utopia Theatre Project) Jihad Jones, Value Over Replacement (TBA Award for Featured Actor), Romeo & Juliet, Miss Julie, Death of a Salesman, Aloysius in New York, Escape from Roosevelt Island, Bartleby the Scrivener, Cloud 9, Macbeth, King John, 5th of July, This is Our Youth and many more.

Christian has also directed Ross Valley Player's Bus Stop which was selected as one the "Top 10 Theatrical Experiences of 2017" by TwoOnTheAisle and the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle selected Bus Stop for their "SFBATCC Go See!" program.

Melissa Ortiz* as Masha:

Melissa Ortiz* past credits include Masha in The Seagull (Utopia Theatre Project), Emily in Value Over Replacement, Julie in Miss Julie, Rhonda in Surf City, Shirley in 5th of July, Edward/Victoria in Cloud 9, and Echo in Eleemosynary. She received her MFA in Acting from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, Colorado.

Anne Yumi Kobori - Playwright and Director:

Anne Yumi Kobori founded Utopia Theatre Project in 2014 because she believes in artist-produced live theatre as a unique and powerful form of human connection. In 2017 Kobori adapted Anton Chekhov's The Seagull for Utopia Theatre Project's inaugural experiential production. Kobori's performance credits include: The Seagull, Stories from Silence (Utopia Theatre Project), The Winter's Tale, Hamlet on Tour (SF Shakespeare Festival), the title role in Hamlet, Othello, Tempest (Silicon Valley Shakespeare), A Message (Arabian Shakespeare Festival), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Woman's Will), Miss Saigon (Palo Alto Players), and numerous ShotzSF comedy shorts. Her plays The Flapper and Seeds have been performed in the New Playwrights' Festival at Santa Clara University. She has directed shows with SF Shakespeare Festival, Los Altos Youth Theatre, Utopia Theatre Project, and Greenwood Players.

Maryssa Wanlass - Artistic Director:

Maryssa Wanlass is a Bay Area based actor, director, and teaching artist. Wanlass* has been seen as an actor across the stages of the Bay Area and also carries her social justice theatre work into the correctional system and with at-risk young adults. Performance highlights include As You Like (CalShakes), Hamlet, Winter's Tale (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival), Persuasion (San Jose Stage) and Crime and Punishment (San Jose Repertory Theatre). Her directing work has been showcased with The Free Theater, ShotzSF, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.

About Utopia Theatre Project:

Utopia Theatre Project uses the theatrical art form to invoke social change through the telling of non-traditional stories. Seeds is the third production in Utopia's inaugural season.

The first production was Chekhov's The Seagull, directed by Maryssa Wanlass* and Adapted by Anne Yumi Kobori featured a diverse and gender imaginative cast, as well as immersive and intimate staging, Cast members: Dameion Brown as Dorn; Elizabeth Carter* as Trigorin; Christian Haines* as Arkadina; Mary Baird* as Sorin; and Melissa Ortiz* as Masha. The Seagull was performed at the Omni Commons in Oakland from May 6-19, 2017.

The second production was Stories from Silence - an American Dream Play which was a series of original works by Bay Area artists responding to the epidemic of sexual abuse and assault. It was a benefit for MISSSEY, a non-profit based in Oakland with the mission of ending child exploitation. Cast members: Norman Gee*; Maryssa Wanlass*; Willem Long*; and Douglas Giorgis*. Stories from Silence was performed at PianoFight in San Francisco from November 30 - December 9, 2017.

*Member, Actor's Equity Association

About PianoFight:

A nightlife hub located in the heart of San Francisco's theatre district boasting two stages, a cabaret space, and a popular bar, and restaurant, Attendees are invited to come early for light jazz and dinner in the cabaret space, and stay after the show for excellent cocktails and more musical acts.

Related Articles View More San Francisco Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You