Seeds

Written by:

Annabel Soutar

Cast Size:
7

Roles For:

  • Men: 3
  • Women: 4

Genre:

Documentary
Drama
Verbatim/Research-Based

Themes:

Activism
Environment
Social Justice

Length:

120 min.

Year Written:

2012

Synopsis:

“Part courtroom drama and part social satire, Seeds presents an intelligent portrait of farming and scientific communities in conflict and at the same time penetrates the complex science of genetically modified crops. The play documents the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada showdown between Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and biotech multinational Monsanto Inc., a David-and-Goliath struggle that cast Schmeiser as the small-farmer underdog fighting the unscrupulous major corporation.

Monsanto accused him of growing their genetically patented Roundup Ready canola seeds on his property without paying the licensing fee they require. Through a suspenseful labyrinth of legal conflicts regarding patent rights, scientific showdowns about GM food and property clashes between farmers and the biotechnology industry, Seeds asks the essential question: “Can you patent a living thing?” Or as Schmeiser famously asked, “Who owns life?”” (from the Talonbooks Website)

Characters:

PLAYWRIGHT: a Montreal-based documentary theatre creator, thirties. / LAB TECHNICIANS: various played by five different actors. / TRISH JORDAN: public relations director for Monsanto Canada, thirties. / PERCY SCHMEISER: a Saskatoon farmer, early seventies. / LOUISE SCHMESIER: Percy’s wife, early seventies. / TERRY ZAKRESKIE: Percy’s lawyer, thirties. / ROGER HUGHES: lawyer for Monsanto, sixties. / CARLYLE MORITZ: Percy’s farm assistant, early thirties. / TONY CREBER: lawyer for BIOTECanada, early fifties. / NADEGE ADAM: spokesperson for the Council of Canadians, late twenties. / MAUDE BARLOW: national chairperson for Robinson Investigations, age unknown. / JAMES VANCHA: associate manager of intellectual property, Monsanto, age unknown. / DR. KIETH DOWNEY: seed scientist, seventies. / DR. ANN CLARK: associate professor of plant agriculture, University of Guelph, Ontario, fifties. / LYLE FRIESEN: weed scientist at the University of Manitoba, forties. / MORRIS HOFFMANN: assistant manager of farm supplies, Humboldt Flour Mill, sixties. / DR. ILLIMAR ALTOSAAR: professor of biochemistry, microbiology, University of Ottawa, fifties. / WESLEY NIEGRUGGE: farmer and fuel station attendant, forties. / SISTER CATHERINE FAIRBAIRN: nun, member of the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, early sixties. / JOHN HONDERICH: publisher of the Toronto Star, sixties. / MARY-DEANNE SHEARS: managing editor of the Toronto Star. / DR. VANDANA SHIVA: Indian seed scientist and activist, fifties. / OLD INDIAN FARMER: eighties. / ZITA MAIER:  a reporter for the Prairie Messenger, late sixties. / PLAYWRIGHT’S HUSBAND: thirties. / DR. BARRY COMMONER: senior scientist at the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems at Queens College, City University of New York, eighties. / JEFF HOINESS: Saskatchewan farmer and representative of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, fifties. / MORITZ’S WIFE: early thirties. / SHOP CLERK IN BRUNO, SASKATCHEWAN: female, twenties. / JOHANNESBURG RADIO INTERVIEWER: female, age unknown. / RETIRED FARMER 1: seventies. / RETIRED FARMER 2: seventies. / SUPREME COURT JUSTICES: performed by the actress playing the playwright. / BRUNO FARMER’S WIFE: sixties.

Other characters played by various actors: Francis Crick, Restaurant Maitre d’, Nadege’s Colleague, Court Clerk, Interjecting Voice, Ultrasound Technician

First Produced:

2012 Crow's Theatre, Toronto

Resources:

Seeds is available through Talonbooks.

To view other works by this playwright, click here.

Notes:

A retrospective CBC News article about this play’s subject matter can be found here.

Seeds can be accessed at the Canadian Play Outlet. 

Featured Play Category:

Barry's Picks

Selection Notes:

Soutar's documentary play Seeds takes the David and Goliath story of Percy Schmeiser's confrontation with controversial GMO crop corp Monsanto. Dramaturgically, the play is structured around Soutar's own process of research, following how her initial sympathy with Schmeiser becomes more complex as she learns more about the issue and the circumstances around his fight. Beyond its environmental and social justice themes, the play works well as a piece of theatre in the sense that it is about the grounded, local materiality of Schmeiser's fight, a localism that makes sense in theatrical form. -Barry