Department of Theatre and Dance Department presents “Antigone”

Ancient theatre with a modern message

Rachel Milio, Staff Writer

The University Theatre and Dance Department, from Oct. 19-22, presented Sophocles’ “Antigone,” translated by Anne Carson. Directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance Bryan Vandevender, the Greek tragedy was performed in the Harvey M. Powers Theatre by a cast, crew, and production staff of University students.

“Antigone” tells the story of the daughter of Oedipus, Antigone, and her conflict with her uncle Creon following her decision to bury her brother against Creon’s orders. Vandevender considers “Antigone,” “the most enduring play in the Western dramatic canon,” due to themes that he sees as “endlessly and unsettlingly relevant.” He also views the character of Antigone to be “a global emblem of courage, integrity, tenacity, and defiance.”

Sage Lamade ’22 was a scenic artist for the production. She focused on the paper mâché masks used by the actresses in the Chorus. “It was so thrilling to see them animated by the Chorus members and used in such an effective and meaningful way,” Lamade said of the masks, which created an ominous appearance for the Chorus and were often slammed against the stage floor to emphasize poignant lines of dialogue.

The production “was a mix between traditional Greek theatre and modern-day plays in terms of the wording of the Anne Carson translation and so it lived in between both worlds,” Katharine Cognard-Black ’21 said, who played the blind prophet Tiresias.

Making the traditionally male role of Tiresias female was a part of Vandevender’s vision for “a production in which Creon is surrounded by female bodies and female voices.” He also chose to cast the masked Chorus as women, in order to contrast with the character of Creon, who believes “in male dominance” and has “an extreme distrust of outspoken women.”

Vandevender’s said the message of the play is “misogyny and entrenched systems of patriarchy breed poisonous results;” however, “Antigone” also spoke towards the danger of stubborn and uncompromising behavior.

The cast and crew shared “a very powerful message about power, tyranny, and ego,” Cognard-Black said.

“‘Antigone’ is a cautionary tale,” Lamade said, “a message to the audience to value the opinions of those around you, accept the world as a complex place with forces that operate outside of human control, and recognize that ignorance, stubbornness, and narcissism can have extreme consequences.”

For Vandevender, “Antigone” is a story of “the dangers of blind tribalism and unyielding partisanship” that he sees as relevant to all eras, especially the present.

In terms of audience reception, Cognard-Black hoped that “people take away an understanding and appreciation of Greek narratives, as exciting, thrilling, and sometimes even funny pieces of art rather than outdated, dry plays. This production was able to make it a bit more accessible so people have a chance to appreciate the truly important narratives they tell.”

Coming up for the Department of Theatre and Dance is the Fall Dance Showcase Nov. 9-10, the Fall Dance Concert Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and the Cocktail Theatre One Act Plays Dec. 3-4.

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