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News Southern Miss Performing Arts gears up for new digital...

Southern Miss Performing Arts gears up for new digital experiences


The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Performing and Visual Arts (SPVA) has recently announced its plans to revise its fall season line-up by offering immersive digital experiences to the community.

Although a trip to the theater may look a little different this season, the SPVA approaches the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic by offering virtual tours of art exhibitions, hosting outdoor dance concerts and broadcasting live theatrical performances. 

“We have reimagined the experience,” director of the SPVA Stacy Reischman Fletcher said. “[We] are back and busy doing what we love to do, which is to create and share our exhibitions, dance concerts and theatrical productions for our audiences.”

The SPVA launched its virtual 2020 Biennial Faculty Show on Sep. 10, which features works of art created by the Art and Design faculty. These virtual showrooms are open to the public, as individuals are encouraged to immerse themselves in the arts from the safety and comfort of their own homes. By offering virtual tours, the school enables themselves to share their exhibits and events with individuals at both local and national levels.

“Rather than having physical gallery exhibitions this fall, we decided that it would be best to move our exhibitions online.” Mark Rigsby, associate professor and gallery director, said. “I chose to see this not as a limitation, but as an opportunity to share our exhibits and events not only with the local community, but with audiences on a national scale.”

For dance, this semester has presented many new challenges, but the creativity of the dancers and fellow faculty members has been inspiring.

“We have built a new outdoor stage for our senior solos to be performed, and the juniors are working on an outdoor site specific concert,” Lauren Smith, Assistant Professor of Dance, said. “Both of these will be pre-recorded and streamed online for our audience[,] and we can’t wait to see how this ignites future dance making.”

This is especially good news for junior and senior dance majors, who were afraid that the pandmeic meant they would be unable to complete their final choreographic projects. Smith is similarly excited that her students will still be able to finish these projects in otherwise unusual circumstances. 

“By allowing our students to still be able to embark on their junior and senior choreographic projects, we have come up with some alternative and exciting ways for people to view dance,”Smithsaid.

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, the Theatre program is also transitioning from live performances to live broadcasts. Technological advances in theatre have made it possible for the productions to continue in a socially-distanced manner with relative ease. The season started on Sept. 24 with Lauren Gunderson’s ‘The Revolutionists,’ and will continue with productions of ‘We’re Still Here’ and ‘Describe the Night’. 

“Our performances and crew will be performing in real-time as the audience watches, just as in a regular theatre,” David Coley, Assistant Professor of Theatre, said. “Though our actors will be performing in separate spaces, our technology will bring together their performances.”
For the virtual showroom and more information regarding tickets for upcoming events, visit usm.edu/spva.

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