The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
T. S. Eliot
… but how many names must a mouse have?
As it turns out… two.
Jennifer Orr, Speech Arts and Drama Instructor and Program Coordinator at MRU Conservatory, was pleased to announce the official name(s) of the character formerly referred to as ‘the Speech Mouse. “Introducing Sherwood Squeakspeare!” she proclaimed, with the appropriate amount of theatricality.
This is the official news that over 300 entrants had been awaiting for weeks. But for some, like Orr, the wait has been much longer. Created by graphic designer David Soltess to promote the A.C.T. (August Childrens’ Theatre) program, “the mouse has been a symbol to promote Speech and Drama programs for over 20 years.” she admits. Though the program has evolved, the mouse has remained a smiling presence, ready to tread-the-boards with another generation of dramatic performers.
“Lately,” Orr states, “he’s been used to promote our Presentation MRU non-competitive Speech Arts and Drama Festival.” In fact, it was at Presentation MRU in early March that the final entries were submitted.
Among the names that were passed over, some favourites emerged including:
Dr. Moustus (after Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus)
Nybalt (a cross between ‘nibble’ & ‘Tybalt’ from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet)
Sir Peter Patter
And Julius Cheeser
“Squeakspeare made sense.” Orr begins, noting that there were three student submissions that were entered into the draw for the prize, a $50 voucher to the MRU Conservatory. “He’s a mouse, who obviously recites Shakespeare.”
His first name isn’t quite as obvious a link.
Who is the eponym for this dubious title? Orr explains,“Sherwood was suggested by a parent in the program. She was inspired by the portrait of Mary Belle Taylor (after whom the Bella Concert Hall was named). As luck would have it, her maiden name was ‘Sherwood’.”
Orr, who had the honour of going through all submissions herself before consulting with colleagues on the final name, indicates, “Sherwood resonated with me right away. I thought it gave an echo of Robin Hood. He does look a little like a merry man with the feather in his cap.” And adds, ”But, I really liked the nod to the Bella and the Taylor family.”
“We were going to name him Sir Sherwood Squeakspeare, but that’s too many sibilants.” A clear thought well-spoken by this Speech Arts instructor.
For a mouse, he’s always been a bit unique. “He doesn’t have a tail.” She remarks of his illustration omission. “It was probably lost in battle.”
Tail or not, at least he now has a story.