Squirrels. You’ve seen them on the campus and they’ve seen you. While most of the student/squirrel interactions on campus have been limited to staring at each other between classes, Union has decided to change this by incorporating the squirrels into the drama program.
The incorporation of live animals into theatrical performances is not a new idea. Several successful shows have brought live animals into the spotlight including The Wizard of Oz and Annie, which both included a dog. However, despite their incredible intelligence, squirrels haven't held a major or minor role in a stage production.
Unsurprisingly, there are many challenges that come with acting alongside squirrels. Communication has been one of the biggest concerns. There was debate whether the squirrels should be made to learn English or the humans should learn how to squeak. It was eventually decided upon that both parties would compromise and learn Morse code.
Getting into the mindset of the characters is also expected to be a challenge for the squirrels. Unlike human actors who have the advantage of taking on the roles of other human characters, the squirrels will have to learn how to think and act as a human before taking on any character roles. Acting for the small creatures will certainly be no easy feat, but Union’s drama team has confidence that they will be up to the task.
Guila Medrano, a junior biochemistry major, has participated in many of Union’s productions, including Captain Scrooge and the Curse of the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Jubilee Road. “When I first heard the news [about the squirrels], I thought it was a prank,” she recounted. “I mean, it sounds like something someone would say as an April Fool’s joke.”
Although at first suspicious of the idea of working alongside the squirrels, she has now warmed up to the idea. “I think that this could really bring in a lot of audiences,” Medrano said. “We might even make it on the news--especially if someone gets bitten!”
The first show that the squirrels will be performing in will be a live-action production of Veggie Tales. Most of the major roles are expected to be given to students, but squirrels with promising auditions will be given consideration as well. This amazing opportunity may allow for a squirrel to play the iconic role of Larry the Cucumber or Bob the Tomato for the first time in history.
Auditions for the show will take place in September of the 2018 fall semester and performances are scheduled for the first two weeks of December. “I think it will be one of Union’s most memorable productions,” Medrano said. “Everyone should definitely check it out!”
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