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COVID-19 Can’t Stop ODURep Theater Production of "Symptomatic: IRL", Directed by Brittney S. Harris

By Kaitlyn Justice | November 10, 2020

COVID-19 Can't Stop ODURep Theater Production of Symptomatic: IRL Directed by Brittney S. Harris

Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. - Coming to Old Dominion University this November is a production unlike any other. Symptomatic: IRL, directed by Brittney S. Harris and produced by Deborah Wallace, is an ODURep Theatre production that will be livestreamed and performed completely remotely. The production explores COVID-19 and the emotional effects and psychological chaos society has experienced because of the virus.

Brittney S. Harris, an established performer, director, alumna, and professor at ODU who created and directs the show, says that the inspiration for developing Symptomatic: IRL came from "the need to be creative when we were not only physically in 'quarantine,' but feeling creatively stifled and isolated as well."

By using six student actors, the production explores the different perspectives of the virus from "adhering to restrictions versus not believing or enforcing restrictions, conspiracy theories about COVID-19 as it pertains to race, gender, age, location, etc., and contradicting information from 'experts' and 'news sources,'" Harris explains.

The most impressive aspect of the show is that it was developed remotely and will be performed remotely as well. One of the student actors featured in the production, Frances Calderon, describes how this project is different from any other project she has worked on in the past: "I've definitely never acted in a show where my 'stage' was my own bedroom. So that was a unique experience for me."

Brain Jinright, another student actor in the production, felt similarly: "This opportunity is very different but fun for me. It's different than being on stage connecting with your fellow cast than doing it through a screen. It has taught me to dig down deeper as an actor, because when you are not in full character at times, the camera will tell you."

During these uncertain times of the pandemic, Harris gives her fellow actors credit in creating this production: "Theatre is rooted in personal intimate interaction - it is a society within itself, a microcosm of society as a whole. Thespians are hyper-alert to nuance in both facial expression and body language, and as a consequence, it is traumatic to distance us, to box us into Zoom screens. Nevertheless, we persisted."

Symptomatic: IRL will be a livestreamed, multimedia production by ODURep. The show will be premiering November 12-14 at 7:30 p.m. and November 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase at http://ODUArtsTix.com. ODURep is the production arm of ODU's Department of Communication and Theatre Arts' Theatre Program. The goal of ODURep is to give a voice to student and professional artists as they create theatre for the Hampton Roads community.

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