“The Squirrels”: A furry commentary on wealth inequality


Kennith Woods

Hunter Tatman, a sophomore integrative biology major and Brianne Leedy, a freshman theater major, took on their roles as Scurius and Rodentia during a rehearsal for a production of “The Squirrels.”

Alpha Psi Omega (APO), Southeastern’s honors theater society, is putting together a production of “The Squirrels,” a play written by Robert Askins. The production will run from Thursday, March 30 through Saturday, April 1 at the Studio Theatre in the Columbia Theatre. 

“‘The Squirrels’ is a rowdy play about racism and wealth inequality among squirrels and how the selfishness of certain squirrels can impact the entire tree,” according to Hunter Tatman, a sophomore integrative biology major.  

The titular rodents featured in the play are separated by fur color: the wealthy gray squirrels and the disproportionately poor fox squirrels. 

Sciurus, played by Tatman, is the patriarch of a rich gray squirrel family who “owns enough nuts to feed everyone in the tree for years.”

There is also Scuridare, played by Anthony Lavine, a racist gray squirrel whose actions set forth the events of the play. He manipulates Scurius by taking advantage of his underlying prejudices against fox squirrels. 

He’s able to convince Sciurus not to give back to the fox squirrels and ruin the relationship between his daughter and a local fox squirrel named Carolinensis. 

Taylor Meng, the director of the show, is an alumnus of Southeastern and a former officer of APO. 

“As an alum, coming back to my alma mater to direct is such a wonderful experience. I loved my time at Southeastern both in the theater department as well as in APO and it’s been a pleasure to get to work with the next generation of actors and theater artists in the program today,” Meng said. 

The cast say they are ecstatic to put this production onstage. In particular, Brianne Leedy, a freshman theater major, commented on the joy and camaraderie between the cast in rehearsals. 

“Rehearsal has been so much fun. I am so glad I am a part of such a wonderful, talented cast,” she said. 

Leedy will be making her Southeastern debut as Rodentia, a “sassy and spunky” squirrel that “is all about the moment.” 

Ai’dhan Solmone, a junior theater major, further elaborated on the rehearsal process and discussed the challenges of trying to authentically adopt squirrel mannerisms. 

“We have had to work with using our bodies to convey the animal and play with different aspects of both humans and squirrels. Figuring out how has been a very unique experience, and I’m sure seeing it will be just as unique,” he said. 

Solmone will also be making his Southeastern debut as Carolinensis, a determined fox squirrel who is “very upfront about what he wants and doesn’t back down until he gets them.” 

Meng emphasized the important themes conveyed throughout the production. While the play is populated with squirrels, their struggles and conflicts are overwhelmingly human. 

“This show touches on things like inequality, poverty, racism, fascism and so many other horrible things that we still see in our world today. Though it may be a wild ride told totally through the lens of literal squirrels, I think it is important to share the underlying messages with audiences today,” Meng said. 

For more information on “The Squirrels” and APO, visit their Instagram. Visit the Columbia Theatre’s website for more information on upcoming productions.