The Seedling Project is an original play inspired by the true stories of women and men as they navigate the choices surrounding unplanned pregnancy. Presented by Partly Cloudy People, this production seeks to end the stigma and the silence around the issue. The play is inspired by interviews with women and men across the country and seeks to represent diverse opinions and backgrounds without judgment or bias. In keeping with Partly Cloudy People’s mission statement, part of the proceeds will be donated to the historic Margaret Sanger Center of Planned Parenthood.
Eva Gil, co-creator and co-producer, conceived the idea for The Seedling Project a few years ago. “I knew so many people who had experienced unplanned pregnancy, but there hardly seemed to be any theatre plays about the topic,” Gil says. “I started to do research and found that almost half of pregnancies in the US are unplanned. One in three American women will chose to have an abortion in her lifetime. That’s a lot of women and their partners experiencing something that is not reflected back in our art.”
[vimeo 185380300 w=640 h=360]
Conversations about “THE SEEDLING PROJECT” with Laura Poe & Tricia Alexandro from Kelly McCready. Watch the full series clicking here.
Gil is right, of course. Historically, stories about women’s choice increased dramatically after the Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade (1973), but certainly not enough to mirror true life. Advancing New Standards In Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) is an organization dedicated to “challenging structures of inequity in order to improve reproductive wellbeing.” ANSIRH recently published their research on the depiction of abortion in the entertainment media (not including theatre), concluding that up until 2014 there were 87 abortion stories depicted on television. Of these stories, 14% ended with the woman dying, either during the procedure, being murdered because of the emotional aspects of the procedure, or committing suicide. So not only are there so few stories about abortion in our arts and entertainment media, but those stories are not necessarily accurate depictions of what a typical abortion experience is like. In fact, it could be argued that some these stories often do little more than alienate or condemn women.
[vimeo 185828221 w=640 h=360]
How many women and men feel like their stories are being reflected in our art and culture? It was this question that drove Eva Gil to start The Seedling Project. Partnering with Sarah Kinsey and Sarah Nedwek, all co-producers of Partly Cloudy People, the project began to germinate. Partly Cloudy People then conducted thirty interviews and went on to commission six playwrights to shape the source material into plays that could more accurately reflect the wide range of feelings, choices, and outcomes of unplanned pregnancy.
Sarah Kinsey, one of the producers, writers and performers of the piece, hopes that the project might “find a way to encourage women and men to share their stories without fear of judgment or political stigma. We are presenting these stories in an atmosphere of openness and collaboration, reaching across the barriers of this highly politicized topic to find understanding and respect for the real human experience beneath.” An outside eye might predict that it is the political stigma that poses the biggest challenge to the production. How do you present abortion alongside parenting and adoption as a valid choice when the topic is so hotly debated? Can you present abortion as a valid option at all? Partly Cloudy People hopes that by examining all choices, the show will become less about the validity of each of the options, and more about creating a space to discuss something that connects all of us.
[vimeo 185540601 w=640 h=360]
Conversations about “THE SEEDLING PROJECT” with Sarah Nedwek & Xiachen Zhou. Watch the full series clicking here.
Gil explains, “We hear a lot about the politics surrounding reproductive choices but not a lot about the actual personal, visceral experience of the woman and her partner facing these choices.” The solution, then, is not to focus on the political aspects of abortion or the other equally valid options, but to focus on the feelings and common human thread underneath. “The political fervor on both sides of reproductive choice would lead you to believe things are cut and dry but in the interviews we conducted, we found it to be anything but that,” says Gil. “Women and their partners shared their stories with deep introspection, humor, love, fear, self-knowledge, regret, leaps of faith, unyielding hope and such strength and grace.”
[vimeo 185807786 w=640 h=360]
Conversations about “THE SEEDLING PROJECT” with Sarah Kinsey & Ryan Brennan. Watch the full series clicking here.
WHEN: November 5, 6, 12, and 13 @ 2pm
WHERE: The PIT Loft. 154 W 29th St (b/t 6th & 7th). New York, NY 10001
THE CAST: Tricia Alexandro, Betsy Ross, Kim Krane, Aaron Fouhey, Laura Poe, Ryan Brennan, Jesse N Holmes, Tammi Clayton, Sarah Nedwek, Sarah Kinsey
THE PLAYWRIGHTS: Catherine L. Albers (High School), Beatriz Cabur (Breakfast At Daddy’s), Sarah Kinsey (Dudes, Family Dinner), Sarah Nedwek (Taylor), Lizzie Vieh (Limbo), Pirronne Yousefzadeh (Could I Say No and To Really Know).
DIRECTED by Jennifer Tuttle
PRODUCED by Partly Cloudy People: Eva Gil, Sarah Kinsey & Sarah Nedwek.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.