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Pandemic Paintings


I went back to the V&A Museum, and in the Japan exhibit I found a series of paintings from the Edo period about a measles outbreak. The prints were produced at the height of the crisis and according to the plaque, "their wry humor encouraged social solidarity and gave hope and levity to people affected by the virus." Seeing these prints were striking, for obvious reasons, but shows the experience of epidemics have not changed so much over time: there were prints about struggling businesses unable to open, about isolation and the willingness to sacrifice freedom for public health, about mistrust in government entities. In these prints, the disease was personified in human form, portrayed as a demon. It was fascinating to me how this measles outbreak caused such an impact similar to what we just went through, and all considered to be so "unprecedented."


The Production:

A play in two acts: the first act portrays a Japanese town experiencing this measles outbreak, and the second act portrays the descendants of that same town experiencing the COVID-19 outbreak. It centers on one family's experience in both instances, and the universality of the human struggle to cope with such circumstances in a humorous way, through a family "dramedy."

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