ODURep Production Captures the Ultimate Selfie
ODURep’s “Narcissus: The Ultimate Selfie” debuted at ODU’s Goode Theater on Oct. 20. The interactive performance event drew parallels between the Greek myth of Narcissus and contemporary selfie culture. The production questioned the role of selfies in shaping the view of oneself and the view of ourselves through others.
Attendees expecting a conventional play were in for a unique experience.
White paper lanterns and umbrellas were suspended from the ceiling of a black room, illuminated by neon-colored lights. The scene resembled a lively and elegant nightclub. The set design, curated by Angela Winters, incorporated a blend of ancient Greek decor fused with more modern elements.
Visuals, featuring previously submitted selfies, were projected on three large screens and on a wall of white beach balls situated between fabric columns. Performers greeted attendees as they entered and danced to contemporary music.
“The crowds are usually really great, really responsive. We haven’t had really shy crowds, surprisingly,” Nikki DeBrango, who portrayed Eos in the production, said.
One of the most exciting features of the performance was its interactive nature, as the entire theatre, including patrons, made up the stage. Spectators were able to truly feel like they were a part of the cast, as the performers navigated their way through the audience, stopping every now and then to interact with the crowd.
The play, which was envisioned by Theatre faculty members Konrad and Angela Winters, followed Narcissus in his quest for the ultimate selfie, along with interactions among familiar figures from Greek mythology such as Icarus, Zeus, Hera, Theseus and several others. In between singing, dancing and the countless taking of selfies, performers interacted with audience members, comically addressing them and providing comments as the plot progressed.
Theseus later encouraged the audience to march outside into a long, narrow maze. Once inside the maze, the music would occasionally stop, and Theseus would suggest that everyone stop and take another selfie. Two large puppets stood at the exit of the maze as the audience walked to the final portion of the eventful performance in Brock Commons.
At the top of the stairs, a statue of Narcissus with a large sign read: “I, Narcissus, have finally finished my quest for the Ultimate Selfie. It’s beautiful here by the reflecting pond so I have decided to stay – for eternity. Pause with me now and take a picture with me in it. You know it will always be better if I’m in the picture.”
Participants of the event heeded the invitation, and a selfie session ensued for several minutes. Attendees were encouraged to share their Narcissus selfies with #narcissusODU. Spectators lingered, and continued to discuss and the play.
While most plays often prohibit the use of cellphones, Narcissus encouraged it in an effort to embrace technology and its potential implications in live theatre. In this manner, theatre, as a medium, is able to evolve and adapt to new audiences.
“It was a bit confusing,” Jonathan Abdollahzadeh, a freshman at ODU, said.
“It was hard to tell what was happening,” Anna Wexel, an ODU sophomore studying studio art, said.
Both students thought it was interesting, however.