Director, Playwright, & Project Concept
Presented as part of the mainstage performance season for the Theatre program at Old Dominion University.
A devised/new play development. 6-week rehearsal process.
Director: Brittney S. Harris
Set Designer: Terry Flint
Costume Designer: Meredith Magoun
Lighting Designer: Jeffrey Shook
Sound Designer: Justin McLawhorn
Echoes centered on deliberately targeted the generational echoes of caution and criticism that ring in every woman's ears: that "mother within" whose cautions and criticism benefit only their oppressors.
This show explored the thematic elements of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf and variations of Augusto Boal’s methodology of Rainbow of Desires. By utilizing the Boalian technique Rainbow of Desire and the stylized method of Ntozake’s “choreopoem”, an ensemble cast will create and devise original text/literature (poetry/rap, choreography, etc) identifying with issues of racial and gender oppression, social status and relationships, and diversity.
The performance had community outreach elements including a panel discussion titled ‘Young Women Talking Change the World: Telling Stories to ignite Social Change.’
Methodological Approach(es): Exploring the thematic elements of a) Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed: Rainbow of Desires and b) specific thematic/physical elements of For Colored Girls…
She doesn’t know the sound of her voice, her own power. Trapped in the confines of her mind. On repeat. Repeat.”
The voice within: the little voice inside our head that keeps us in check, guides us, and, at times, judges us. This voice has been influenced by the people we meet, places we go, things we do—these are echoes.
As a director, I believe the theatrical realm exists as a platform for artists to explore their own roots, questions about morality and society, and spirituality. Echoes centers on each young woman's experiences and on the profound power of women sharing their personal stories - power that ultimately affects both the storyteller and her audience. This show intends to amplify their unheard voices, while taking aim at the centuries-old voices echoing shame and silence that are far too familiar to every woman. Taking deliberate intention at the generational echoes of caution and criticism that ring in every woman's ears, that "mother within" whose cautions and criticism benefit only the oppressors, Echoes highlights each performer’s own personal anecdotal narrative of self-acceptance and revelation.
Developed and devised over a 6-week collaborative rehearsal period, the show was built from scratch—just a directorial narrative-based outline. Using the body to embody redemption and resistance is a transformative art form: the stage is the performance studio, performers are the medium and you, the audience, are the canvas: allow yourself to be painted by this experience.
Drawing from choreopoematic framework of Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Echoes shines a bright light on female pain, anger, despair, and strength by interweaving and interconnecting stories of love, empowerment, struggle and loss into a complex representation of sisterhood. Utilizing Augusto Boal's Rainbow of Desire techniques for disempowering internalized oppression, the play forges a pathway into a better future, for the performers/storytellers and the audience alike.
In memory of Ntozake Shange
October 18, 1948 to October 27, 2018
Theatre of the Oppressed: Rainbow of Desires
Theatre of the Oppressed, which can be seen as a theatrical/performative form of activism, uses theatre as the means of promoting social and political change:
Echoes will not only serve as an active dialogue for the performers but for the audience as well. This interactive piece will call for scene-to-scene participation leaving each night of performance purely unique and undefined. While the rehearsal process is dedicated to the development of the prose, poetry, scenes, and/or choreography focused on various issues, the second major component of the production is the implementation of the Boalian exercise of the Rainbow of Desire.
This unique method allows for a closer encounter between the performers and the audience, calling for moments of “stepping in” from the “spect-actors” (audience) to show alternatives or concurrences about the topic at hand. In short, RoD is the Identifying and clarifying our desires through the use of physical images displayed on stage
Thematic Elements of For Colored Girls…
For Colored Girls… by Ntozake Shange coined as a ‘choreopoem’. As a choreopoem, the original play is a series of 20 separate poems choreographed to music that weaves interconnected stories of love, empowerment, struggle and loss into a complex representation of sisterhood.
7 performers, over 15 narratives, the framing device of the choreopoem allows for interweaving of the diverse narratives through various artistic genres: having each performer provide their own unique narrative under the umbrella of “Millennial or Generation Z” individuals dealing with issues of social media and its constraints, politicalized entertainment, and the de-evolution of self could serve as possible plot themes.
This show is a mirror: a clear reflection of the times of this current moment, unique to the individuals performing. The catharsis of similarities in narrative but also the differences is so crucial to the development of our student population. As I have mentioned before, this show is the platform to artistically showcase moments of despair and discovery.
Old Dominion University
"Echoes was a unique and beautiful written play. I felt as though I was on the journey with each actor on stage. It was amazing."
"Professor Harris brought the real into the Goode Theatre. I was impressed by the vulnerability of the student actors and kudos to Professor Harris to draw this our of her cast. I thought the subject matter was current in the mist of #metoo and the topics discussed were expressed through an exceptional array of theatrical devices. Big thank you to everyone involved in this work."
"This was an AMAZING show!!! As a male, I really didn’t know what I was getting into, but it was an artistic and visceral look into the life of a woman. Tons of symbolism and most importantly, real stories from real women. I highly recommend this play to anyone! 5/5 stars!!!"
"I loved the show. The directing was fantastic, the actresses were fantastic. The color that they were throwing on each other was such a unique idea and looked amazing from the audience."
"I’m still in complete awe!! I experienced so many feelings as I watched these talented young ladies. The content was so raw & real no sugar coating AT ALL & I loved it!! I also Loved how guests could record their echo to be shared! So creative !! At the end of the show I actually cried which has NEVER happened before!!! This production should go on tour for the world to experience."
Featured a) performance photos by Anne Peterson, b) in-person rehearsals, script development sessions of Echoes.
(more coming soon)