Wild Swan Theater presents A THOUSAND CRANES This March

Wild Swan Theater presents A THOUSAND CRANES This March

Wild Swan Theater will present A Thousand Cranes as part of its 38th season of bringing high quality professional theater to young audiences in southeast Michigan. Wild Swan is very proud to be bringing A Thousand Cranes back to the stage. This very beautiful and moving play tells the true story of a young Japanese girl's experience after the bombing of Hiroshima. The play recounts Sadako's illness from radiation poisoning and how her friend Kenji teaches her to fold paper cranes as a way of getting well. Sadako's story became a catalyst for children from all over Japan to begin to fold paper cranes in her memory. Now there is a monument to Sadako at the Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan and people from all over the world bring garlands of cranes to it.

As the play begins, Sadako (Monica Mingo) is practicing for a race with her best friend Kenji (Jeremy Salvatori). Without warning, she suddenly falls ill and is hospitalized. As her parents (Jeff Miller and Elaine Riedel) try to keep up her spirits, she begins to fold paper cranes, having learned from Kenji that if she folds a thousand, the spirits will grant her a wish. As her condition worsens, she is visited in a dream by her grandmother (Slavka Jelinkova) who takes her to the spirit world. There she meets and learns the stories of many people who were killed when the atomic bomb fell. As she joins her grandmother in the spirit world, Sadako changes her wish from getting well to hoping for peace in the world.

The style of the production is very theatrical with music and masks playing very important roles. University of Michigan Professor of Music Erik Santos has written the haunting score for the production, and the music is integrated completely into the production. An array of unusual percussion instruments underscores the flute (played by Lisa Warren) and creates many of the sound effects. All the cast members join the percussionist to play such instruments as drums, bells, glass bowls, a rain stick, and a marimba when they are not acting in a particular scene.

Seven austerely beautiful red and white masks, created by costumer John Gutoskey, help shift the scene, first to the hospital and then to the world of the spirits. Actors Don White masks as they create the hospital scenes. The red masks are worn by actors as they create the world of the spirits.

As is customary in Wild Swan productions, American Sign Language Interpreters take an active part in the production. In this production, Marin Goldberg and Erin Parrish are dressed as the rest of the cast in flowing black Japanese robes. As well as interpreting all the spoken lines of dialogue, they also join other cast members as doctors and spirits and dance with the grandmother and Sadako.

Today there is a monument to Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and garlands of cranes are hung there from all over the world. As in past performances of this play by Wild Swan, attending families are invited to bring paper cranes to the theater or make them after attending the A Thousand Cranes. Origami paper and instruction will be provided after each performance so that those audience members can make their own folded paper crane with their own message of peace. All the cranes will be displayed in the theater during the run of the production and will be sent to the Children's Peace Monument in Japan afterwards. If you have visited Hiroshima, you might have seen cranes folded by children from throughout southeast Michigan, transported to the monument after one of Wild Swan's earlier productions of the play in 1994, 1998, and 2005. This production is recommended for children in grades 3 - 12.

This production is supported in part by the Ford Motor Company Fund, James A. and Faith Knight Foundation, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Michigan Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Backstage touch tours and audio-description are available for blind theater patrons. These services are free but must be reserved in advance by calling (734) 995-0530.

Wild Swan Theater is dedicated to making professional theater of the highest artistic quality for young people and families that is accessible, diverse and inclusive, through affordable ticket prices and innovative outreach programs. For more information about the company, its current season, touring programs, drama classes and camps, visit the Wild Swan website at www.wildswantheater.org. For interviews, contact Michelle Trame Lanzi at (734) 995-0530.

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