Brittany King never wants people to feel sorry for her. Her priority isn’t for people to realize their lives could be worse. Instead, because she plays a main role, she wants to shed more light on The Theatre DepartmentsThe School for Scandal.

Her character, Mrs. Candour, is a mega gossip girl who makes sure to know all of the nasty details of the story everyone is talking about.

While on stage — wearing a shiny silver dress, sparkling chunky jewelry, hot-pink, four-inch heels and her hair dyed to match — she giggles and talks in a squeaky, high-pitch voice.

Every time she walks on stage, she walks confidently and attitude-filled, hitting her mark — never loosing character.

But the thing about the performance theater and design senior, the woman underneath the Mrs. Candour costume, is that she’s visually impaired. King’s left eye is dead, and her right eye can see only what is closer than two feet away, and even at that, it’s extremely blurry.

“I can’t see past a two feet radius, it’s hard to read if I don’t have my magnifier, I don’t have peripheral vision because of the scar tissue and it’s hard for me to make out faces,” she said.” I don’t see what most people see.”

When Natalie Gaupp, director and theater arts senior lecturer, first saw her perform in the My Emperor’s New Clothes, she was surprised when the director had mentioned her vision because her character came on and off the stage from several entrances. She said she even forgot about it while she was working with her.

“I would have to remind myself at times because she never lets it get in her way,” Gaupp said. “She nailed this part. It didn’t take long in auditions to realize that she was Mrs. Candour. She has amazing comedic timing and a great stage presence.”

When King was a 15-year-old sophomore in high school, she woke up one morning and saw black dots on her eye. It wasn’t until later in the evening that she decided to tell her mother about the black dots, thinking maybe she should go to the doctor.

“I just thought there was something in her eye, no big deal,” her mom, Joyce Campbell said.

The next morning, they went to the doctor.

“It was the worst day of my life,” Campbell said. “They told us that her retina was detaching and they couldn’t figure out why. There was no medical explanation as to why this was happening.”

The School for Scandal

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Mainstage Theater

Cost:$10 for general public; $7 for students, faculty, staff and seniors

During the next two and a half years, King received 10 eye surgeries, six on her left and four on her right.

Each time doctors would reattache her retina, it would mysteriously detach again. Finally, the left eye died. Doctors could only try to save the right one. After the tenth surgery, her right eye’s retina didn’t detach again, but the scar tissue had built up so much that she had no peripheral vision.

“There’s a condition called Sympathetic Ophthalmia, where when one of your eyes is affected by something the other eye starts to take on the characteristics,” King said. “They were afraid the other eye was going to die the way my left eye did because it was so sick.”

But it didn’t die.

“People always say, ‘Well at least you have some vision left,’ ” King said. “And that always makes me upset. Like it’s some kind of consolation.”

Within two years, King went from having no problems with her vision to having barely any vision at all. Her friends started to fade away, people started to make fun of her, her life turned into something completely different.

“My entire adolescence was completely different from everybody else’s,” she said. “While people were turning 16 and learning to drive, I was learning braille.”

Regardless of her vision problems, King still finds ways to do what she wants. Other than acting in several plays at UTA, she has a massage therapy license, and still does all of the daring stuff she has always wanted to do.

“I’m a daredevil, adrenaline junky,” she said. “I’ve been bungee jumping and skydiving. I love traveling and I’m trying to convince my mom to take me to Greece and Italy as a graduation present.”

King said though she’s sometimes angry about what happened, she is always very honest about her experience.

“The one thing that I want people to take from my story is to take your problems with a grain of salt, that the world isn’t going to end, and that you’re stronger than you think you,” she said. “Hang in there. You’re not alone.”

Saturday, when the lights came up and the cast started the introduction, characters walked across the stage, giving the audience a peek of what their character would be like.

Mrs. Candour looked out into the audience, then sneered to the person sitting next to her, as if she were telling some gossip about someone who was watching her perform.

But unlike the rest of the cast, she had no idea there were less than 20 people in the audience. She couldn’t see them.

“I know I rocked it,” she said. “But it was disappointing that there were only 19 people in the audience. The Theatre Department doesn’t get enough exposure.”

King doesn’t want pity from anyone, there is only one thing that she does want.

“Come see The School for Scandal,” she said.{jathumbnail off}

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