NORFOLK, VA. (WAVY) — Coronavirus has canceled many things, but not creativity. Just ask Norfolk State University’s Theater Company. In August they pulled off a remarkable feat, the first in-person play in Virginia since the pandemic began, but the journey to the stage wasn’t easy.
On this warm summer night, chirping crickets fill the air. A common sound near Chrysler Hall, but on this day the white noise is interrupted by a familiar sound, live theater.
A companion NSU alumnus Terrance Livingston knows well.
He joins alumni from NSU Theatre Company to perform “A Soldier’s Play.”
The play was supposed to take place in early summer, until coronavirus came into hit.
“We both agreed that of everything we were cancelling, this was a project we definitely wanted to hold onto,” said NSU Theater Company Artistic Director Anthony Stockard.
Determined to press play on the production, the group started scouting out options.
“We had to work really close with the city to be able to do it safely,” said Rob Cross, Virginia Arts Festival Director.
However, they needed a venue. So, they built one inside the Virginia Art Festival’s courtyard.
“We had to get the materials from Norfolk State, U-Haul them to here, put everything together,” said actor Terrance Livingston.
They also had to take extra steps so actors could perform without masks.
“We call it the 10-foot tango,” Stockard added.
The full-time staffers at the Virginia Arts Festival worked at the box office, taking temperatures and sanitizing chairs. But for the cast, crew and volunteers, it’s all worth it.
“No one else is getting this opportunity in the country,” said Livingston.
Because for 90 minutes the lights go up, the actors are on, the white noise is silenced, and a dear friend is brought back to life.
Since a Soldier’s Play, the stage has since been used by other performing arts groups, including the Hurrah Players who just ended their two-week run of Junie B. Jones the Musical.
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