Production of Where In The World is Frank Sparrow? Features Elaborate Puppets

SparrowFeb. 10, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan University’s School of Theatre Arts will present Where In The World is Frank Sparrow? Feb. 17-22 in McPherson Theatre. The production, directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Thomas Quinn, incorporates elaborate puppets by Milwaukee-based designer Brandon Kirkham.

Sparrow was originally commissioned by the Graffiti Theatre in Ireland and relies heavily on visual storytelling. Written by Angela Betzien, the quirky play weaves a stark urban reality with the mythic underworld. A modern, dark "fairy tale," it propels the audience through the dangerous streets of “Stab City” and into the dark underworld of change and transformation. The hero, “Frank Sparrow,” meets several animal characters in his journey. A rat and a goat try to advise him, while a fox and a crow try to pursue him.

Kirkham, who specializes in puppets, scenic design, costume design and costume crafts, conducted a puppet workshop with the cast and crew. “Western culture has forgotten the art of puppetry as a storytelling medium, and are very recently rediscovering not only the cultural importance, but also the fun that comes with using puppets to tell a story,” Kirkham said.

According to actor Caitlin McManus ’17, the play’s fantastical tone lends itself to a broad scope in design and costuming. Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Jean McFarland Kerr has worked with the cast in devising the movements needed for the puppet work, while Associate Professor of Costume Design Marcia McDonald supervised the creation of costumes.

The cast includes: Kenny Tran ’17 (Frank Sparrow), Debra Madans ’15 (Kira), Nick Castellanos ’15, (Warren), Elizabeth Albers ’15 (Nyx), Nick Giambrone ’16, Alec Sutton ’16, Dean Carlson ’17, Julia Cicchino ’16, Casey Cudmore ’15, Bucky Emmerling ’16, Elizabeth Ferris ’17, Trev Gabel ’17, Jenia Head ’15, Chris Long ’16, Carlos Medina Maldonado ’16, Caitlin McManus ’16, Yuka Sekine ’17, and Kristin Solodar ’17. Maggie Patchett ’16 is serving as assistant director.

Curtain is at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets are available online or at the McPherson Theatre box office at (309) 556-3232.

By Mallika Kavadi ’15