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A Splash of Swamp Magic for Audiences of All Ages

Imagine U family series to celebrate Northwestern and District 65 collaboration

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July 9, 2013 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Evanston-area families and the young-at-heart of all ages will find adventure deep in the mysterious Tombigbee Swamp this summer at the Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) at Northwestern University.

“Wiley and the Hairy Man,” by celebrated Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) playwright Suzan Zeder, will be presented July 12 to 28 as a part of TIC’s 2013 SummerStage season. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday.

“Stories from the Swamp” will feature Northwestern University faculty member Rives Collins in a two-performance-only storytelling event that will take place at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jul. 16, and 4 p.m., Saturday, Jul. 20.  Both “Wiley” and “Stories from the Swamp” will take place in the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

Both Northwestern undergraduates and Evanston School District students will collaborate on “Wiley and the Hairy Man,” which is presented through TIC’s Imagine U Family Series and will be directed by District 65 drama department chair and Northwestern faculty member Betsy Quinn.

“Wiley” is based on a folktale from the Southern United States, which tells the story of a young fatherless boy, his conjure-woman mother, his faithful hound dog and the Hairy man who haunts Wiley’s days and dreams. In an exciting duel of wits, Wiley learns to rely on his own resources and conquers two villains:  the Hairy Man and his own fear.

Quinn’s cast and team hope to empower young people to find their own sense of bravery, to face their fears and make a place for themselves in the world. “Wiley is always saying, ‘it’s not fair, he’s bigger than me,’ and he comes to realize it’s not about being bigger or smaller; it’s about who you are on the inside and the magic you have inside of you,” says Quinn.

Featuring a cast of 12 Northwestern undergraduate students and nine students from Haven Middle School and Kingsley Elementary School, “Wiley” is part of a long history of collaboration between Northwestern and District 65 that Quinn is excited to continue. “Any TYA piece should involve kids, in my opinion,” says Quinn. “Having young people in the company brings in energy and honesty as well as the sense that this is really important work.”

Running 55 minutes without an intermission, “Wiley” is recommended for ages 6 and up. Each “Wiley” performance provides an opportunity for children to meet members of the cast. Take-home programs filled with activities, art projects, fun facts and games will be given to all children in the audience. A free 30-minute workshop for children and families will follow the three Saturday morning “Wiley” performances.

Families who are eager to share more swamp-filled adventures together can also enjoy the hour-long event, “Stories from the Swamp.” “With spooky tales, funny tales and perhaps a folk song or two to add spice, the stories will ignite the imaginations of our listeners,” said Collins. “Stories” is recommended for children 5 and up and for the young at heart of all ages.

“Wiley and the Hairy Man” general admission tickets are $5 to $10; $5 tickets are available exclusively to Northwestern students with valid IDs on advance ticket purchases only. For discounts for groups of eight or more, call the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282. “Stories from the Swamp” general admission tickets are $5. Tickets for either event can be purchased through the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282.

Topics: Campus Life