Back to their childhood

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Back to their childhood

Photo by Elizabeth Jackson

Photo by Elizabeth Jackson

Photo by Elizabeth Jackson

Story by Rita Fay, Staff Writer

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Mugnog. Is it an animal, vegetable or mineral? Imagination is key to answering the question.

The young audience play, “Mugnog” reminds the audience how important imagination is for both children and adults. UW-Eau Claire music and theatre arts department will present  “Mugnog” at 1:30 p.m. on April 6 and 7 in Haas 190.

In “Mugnog,” two children have a favorite toy: a wooden box called mugnog. The children use their imagination and own set of rules to play with the toy. In turn, they confuse and triumph over the adults.

Senior theatre and psychology major Sam Sirianni said the message of the play is that it is  okay to use imagination and have fun.

“Even though adults and their parents set the rules for (kids), it doesn’t totally define who they are,” Sirianni said. “A kid wouldn’t understand if I put it in those words, but I think it gives that message.”

The play is directed by Associate Professor of Music and Theatre Arts Jennifer Chapman. The actors are seven undergraduate students participating in the play as part of an advanced theatre class. The students are not only the actors but also prop masters, costume and set designers, backstage hands and other various theatre roles.

Senior theatre major Cade Sikora said the students had to work together to get everything done on time.

“Each person, in addition to being an actor, is something else,” Sikora said. “We all have something, some sort of specialty.”

The German play was written by Rainer Hatchfield. Chapman did a rewrite for her graduate dissertation in 1999. The students did their own adaption for this production.

The play is meant for elementary school-aged kids, but Chapman says adults can enjoy it as well.

“A lot of times in the field of theatre at large and people outside of our community, sometimes perceive children’s theatre to be the lesser sibling of grown-up important theatre,” Chapman said. “I think it’s worth seeing a piece of artwork that honors childhood as something that’s really hard. It’s not sentimental, it is funny and ridiculous.”

Sirianna said they studied child behavior before they started acting. They observed children and studied the relationships between children, between adults and between children and adults. They thought about the differences between those interactions.

“One thing that might be different about performing for children versus performing for adults is that you have to be especially careful to not send the wrong message,” Sirianna said. “Because I think children are still in earlier stages of developing their senses of right and wrong. Still, you want to send a good message to any audience.”

The hour-long production is a touring play that will travel to elementary schools throughout Wisconsin. Their opening show will be open in Thorp on April 4.

Cade said it is important to show young kids the importance of art and that’s why they are touring.

“I think it’s an imaginary kind of message,” Cade said. “You can be whatever you want in your own frame of reference. It gives kids a voice when they don’t have one.”

Chapman said the adult characters of the play, and the audience, realize at the end a mugnog is whatever you want it to be.

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