Students and staff gathered for what they believed would be Sophocles’s traditional play, but what they found was much more than a simple retelling of an old classic.
Audience members waited for the lights to go down to watch the classic Greek tragedy “Antigone” in Alice Austin Theatre, which ran from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11.
“Antigone” tells the story of the titular character, the daughter of a dead king who breaks a law—created by her uncle King Creon—to give her brother the proper burial she knows he deserves. The rest of the characters take sides in the familial feud and the chorus, a common element of Greek theatre, is present to examine the characters’ choices and reiterate morals.
Greek chorus member sophomore Angel Gonzalez felt that the tragic play’s intensity led him through a roller coaster of emotions during rehearsals despite how much he enjoyed putting on the show.
“I would say that this is a very draining show because it’s a tragedy,” Gonzalez said.
“Every single night for the past two weeks before production and for the two months before we put it up, you’re crying.”
Although the play’s roots stem from Ancient Greece, professor of theatre and director of the show Randy Kaplan chose to modernize the performance, according to stage manager junior Catherine Henzel.
“First of all, our director changed some of the lines to make the language read more modern so it would be more accessible to a modern audience. As you can see, everyone was dressed in modern clothes. We also added guns to the guards and to Haemon,” Henzel said. “Originally, Antigone was supposed to hang herself with her veil and Haemon was also supposed to hang himself, but we felt that going with the gun was a more modern approach to that and easier to portray onstage than having to hang somebody because that’s a little difficult to do.”
Gonzalez further spoke on how Kaplan put a unique take on the classic chorus.
“I think it was a very interesting take. We did the chorus a little different than normal,” Gonzalez said. “Traditionally, choruses are one unit and they are not actual people. You’re one continuous clump of people but ours is more like each chorus member is an individual persona that has their own life and backstory. I think that’s pretty baller.”
The displays created by the cast outside of theatre examined the themes of the show, and Henzel expressed hope that attendees looked at the hard work the dramaturgy groups put into them.
Gonzalez emphasized the role that the themes of actions and consequences played in the performance.
“Actions have consequences because that is the whole plot of the show. It’s that you will have to pay for what you do if you’re doing wrong,” Gonzalez said. “Make sure you’re always listening to your conscious because if you mess stuff up, it’s going to come and bite you. Once fate has decided you’re on the chopping block, you’re going to go.”
In addition to the various themes “Antigone” possesses, Henzel believes that the director’s choices to modernize the show partly responds to the policies of the current president.
“I think there are definitely intentional parallels to modern society that our director was trying to make so a lot of it was driven by parallels to political figures that will remain unnamed,” Henzel said. “Theatre is always driven by its time, the time that it’s being portrayed in even more than the time that it’s written in. So I think it has very different meaning today than it did in Greek times.
Although “Antigone” may not have been a lot of peoples’ first choice to use as a statement about society’s actions and political climate, the stunning performances of the actors made these subtle themes important.