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Distracted poses questions surrounding attention deficit disorder

September 20, 2017

Distracted
Lisa Loomer's "Distracted" runs Oct. 3-8 for five performances in Squires Haymarket Theatre.

Playwright Lisa Loomer explores the question, “What is A.D.D. in an A.D.D. world?” in her play “Distracted,” opening at Virginia Tech on Oct. 3 in the Squires Haymarket Theatre.

The play revolves around a 9-year-old named Jesse, whose teacher suggests he may have ADD, and his mother’s quest for answers. The subject is treated in a thoughtful and humorous way, as the mother navigates her way through Jesse’s teacher, friends, a psychologist, neuropsychologist, homeopath, psychiatrist, and physician—all with their own beliefs and points of view.

Loomer is an award-winning playwright whose plays often deal with topics of everyday life, including family, parenting, and the medical world. Reflecting on what caused her to write the play, she spoke of her own child first enrolling in school in a 2009 interview with The New York Times, saying, “What I was seeing was an increasing number of children being diagnosed with ADD, with bipolar disorder, with anxiety disorder, with depression.” As a way to research and explore the topic, she wrote the play “Distracted,” a work that brings the audience into the actors’ world and invites them to come along for the ride.

Theatre and cinema faculty chair Susanna Rinehart directs the production. She was attracted to the work because of its highly topical, witty, and theatrical presentation of a topic so relevant to today.

“It addresses critical questions about the impacts of new technologies on brain development, environmental concerns, the school system, coping mechanisms in the form of addictions,” said Rinehart. “But equally importantly, it has a great sense of humor and humanity and respect for its subject.”

The production will be enhanced by the use of video projections and sound, acting as a kind of counterpoint to the live action on stage, amplifying the noise.

As Rinehart began rehearsals with the cast, she was struck by the pervasiveness of what she calls "our collective struggle.

"It's the struggle with what to pay attention to and how to stay connected to each other," Rinehart said. "The play sort of dares to address what we usually try to struggle with alone and privately.”

Her observations are supported by the cast members themselves, which have all expressed some direct connection with the issues and topics of the play.

As one student working on the show reflected, “The play is about how much it sucks when your parents think something is wrong with you.” Perhaps this is an indication of what the impact of the play could be.

Watch a New York Times two-and-a-half minute narrated slide show, “An ADD Ride” with Loomer discussing the writing of “Distracted.”

Performances of “Distracted” are:

  • Oct. 3-6 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 8 at 2 p.m.

All performances are in the Squires Haymarket Theatre, located in the Squires Student Center at 290 College Ave. on the Virginia Tech campus.

Tickets and parking

Tickets are $12 general and $10 for seniors and students and may be purchased online. Tickets may also be purchased at the Squires Centers and Activities Ticket Office on the first floor of Squires Student Center or by calling 540-231-5615. Tickets will be available at the Squires ticket office beginning one hour prior to the performance.

Free parking is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. weekdays in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street, in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street, and the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Alternative parking is available in the Kent Squires parking garage and the Farmers Market metered parking lot, both located on Draper Road. Additional downtown Blacksburg parking information is available online.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please email Susan Sanders or call 540-231-5200 during regular business hours at least 10 days prior to the event.

The 2017–2018 School of Performing Arts Mainstage Theatre series will present “Nosferatu: A Vampire Tale For Our Time” by Ping Chong on Nov. 7-15; the musical “Fun Home,” book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, music by Jeanine Tesori, based on the autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, Feb. 20-28; and “The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy For Serious People” by Oscar Wilde on April 18-21. Tickets for all performances are now on sale.

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