Spring has finally arrived at the University of Richmond and students have come out in droves, scattered across the landscape, soaking up the long-absent rays.

But it appears the warm weather has brought with it some new visitors to UR. Students, faculty and staff may have noticed a migrating flock of sheep, slowly winding their way through campus.

The painted plywood creations initially appeared in the field between the law and business schools, and have since taken up residence in the Stern Quad. The only hint to the reason for their sudden arrival: printed signs with the warning “She is coming” stuck to the creatures.

After some intense investigatory work, the school of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office has discovered that the “she” referred to is none other than the Madwoman of Chaillot, the subject of the theater department’s upcoming performance.

The flock is the brainchild of the play’s scenic director, Theater Professor Reed West. He’s hoping that students, faculty and staff will follow the sheep as they make their way across campus to the Modlin Center, where they’ll make their stage debut in “The Madwoman of Chaillot” on Friday, April 9.

The play focuses on the schemes of filthy-rich and corrupt wheeler-dealers who think they have discovered oil underneath Paris.  They’re willing to destroy the city to get their hands on the black gold.

The sheep are central to the play’s theme.

“The people in the show are complaining that the world is going to hell,” West said. “The government is telling people what to do and no one is questioning it. People are sheep.”

West came up with the ingenious marketing ploy two months ago, and spent weeks secretly obtaining the proper permissions for the project.

“We really didn’t want anyone to know; not the heads of the schools, no one,” West said. “My hope is that people will pay attention to them, and get curious. Unlike posters, which people can ignore, people can’t ignore sheep.”

The creation of the sheep actually ties into another of the play’s themes: graffiti. The image the theater department used as a stencil is based on a work by Parisian graffiti artist Blek le Rat, who tagged it on buildings throughout the city of light.

“Graffiti artists are the ones rebelling against authority,” West said. “It’s a way to fight back against their oppressors.”

Each sheep was hand-made by a member of the theater department, and several of them will appear on-stage in the play. West hopes members of the campus community will treat the sheep with respect if they happen to come across the flock grazing in a grassy knoll on campus.