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Union University’s Ananse! early in the day celebrates West African folklore

JACKSON, Tenn.Jan. 29, 2004 – Children and families alike will get a taste of the culture of West Africa when the Union University Players present Ananse! early in the day. This story is retold by Clarissa Lega and will be performed on March 8 and 9 in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel on Union’s campus. An annual event, the children’s show is performed by Union students for children from local and regional elementary schools. This year’s production features giant wood and strings puppets.

Ananse! is the story of a mischievous spider who experiences the newness of life in the early hours of the day. He has several animal and human friends and companions that help to tell the story. Every character in the story is a puppet, handled by professional actors.

The Wood and Strings Group, which is a professional touring company, is a collection of puppeteers and other artists with an emphasis on educating their audience about other cultures.

“They use every kind of puppet in this show,” said David Burke, director of theater at Union. “Some of these puppets are 14 feet in diameter and some puppets are so huge that people have to crawl inside in order to use them.”

All of the puppets are made out of wood and string, like the name of the theater company suggests, and only professional actors can operate and manipulate them. Burke said that one criterion for being an actor in this group is that you have to be “physically fit, due to the size and weight of some of these puppets. Also, there is a lot of running and crawling around on stage that would require someone to be strong enough to do that.”

The performance will be held in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel on Monday, March 8 at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and Tuesday, March 9 at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $3, and reservations can be made by calling the theater department at (731) 661-5287.

by Tracie Holden ('04)

Media contact: Tabitha Frizzell, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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