Stephens College’s Playhouse Theatre Company is putting on Jean Anouilh’s “Antigone” with a contemporary twist.
The production will stay true to Anouilh’s text—which modernized Sophocles’ Greek tragedy in the 1940s. “Antigone” is the story of a young woman’s struggle as she fights her uncle, King Creon, for the right to give her brother a proper burial after he died leading a rebellion for the crown.
In the Stephens production, Creon is president of the U.S. and Antigone’s clash is with the federal government. The College’s version will also rely on a chorus to help the audience understand the story, but unlike the group of elderly men originally used, Director Traven Rice’s retelling will use journalists and the media. Audiences can expect live video and multi-media effects, as well, to carry the plot.
Ultimately, “Antigone” is the story of civil disobedience—a topic as relevant today as it was in Sophocles’ time, Rice said. It focuses on an age-old debate around democracy: Where do we draw the line between law and order and a citizen’s personal rights?
“The reason it’s a classic and people keep retelling it is because it still rings true,” said Rice, a Stephens alumna. “We stayed true to Anouilh’s text but set it in the White House today so that people would be able to relate to it and to the politics of it.”
“Antigone” is one of three Theban plays written before 441 BCE. Antigone and her siblings are the children of Oedipus and Jocasta, whom Oedipus married without realizing she was his mother, after he killed a man he later discovered was his father. The backstory will be very much a part of the telling of “Antigone,” Rice said, so audience members do not need to be familiar with the Greek classics to enjoy the show.
Second-year theatre student Emily Chatterson will play Antigone, and Professor Rob Doyen will play the role of Creon.
Rice, a producer, director and filmmaker from New York, said she’s been pleased with the level of talent at Stephens.
“Stephens is and always has been great about teaching and doing the classics,” she said. “Antigone is pretty sophisticated, and the classics are hard enough, so I know I’m asking a lot from them. But they’re rising to the challenge.”
The play begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday and Sunday at the Macklanburg Playhouse. Ticket info.
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