Fall Play: Antigone

Tenley Rooney
A classic Greek tragedy set in Guantanamo Bay...What?

By the time the Theatre Program’s production of Antigone opens on November 8, the six-student technical crew, under the direction of Arts Technical Director Bill Potter, will have spent more than 100 work hours transforming the black box theatre into a makeshift prison. Nearly 4,000 pounds of sand, 200 cinder blocks, 100-feet of prop razor wire, and a dozen panels of chain link fence create an austere setting inspired by the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.
 
Antigone, the classic Greek tragedy penned by Sophocles around 441 BC, illuminates the struggle between right and wrong, and the role of justice versus the rule of law. Creon, ruler of war-torn Thebes, and his niece, Antigone, find themselves at odds over the deaths of her brothers: Eteocles, who fought with Creon, and Polynices, who fought against him. When Creon orders that Polynices not receive a burial, Antigone rises to challenge his decision.
 
While the text remains faithful to translations of Sophocles’ work, contemporary elements – such as the setting and an opening scene choreographed to a pop music mash-up – intertwine in this cast-driven production. The play will be performed in the round, putting the players in the center of the physical and metaphorical prison at the heart of the drama. “The set is something I’ve never experienced before,” says Sixth Former Blake Letourneau, who plays the titular tragic heroine. "It affects your movements. It creates an environment for you. It's so intense and rigid.”
 
"As an actor, it is so easy to be affected by your environment,” added formmate Lark White, who performs as Creon. “This set helps give great depth and authenticity to the performances.”
 
The set isn't the only piece of the production executed in extreme detail. As added preparation, the cast met with Dr. David H. Camden, the Alexander Smith Cochran Mastership in Greek Language and Literature, and Elizabeth Engelhardt, who teach in the School’s Classics Program, to gain a deeper understanding of the play’s context, providing the perfect backdrop for the further discussion of Greek history.
 
The production, says Theatre Director Hugh Macgregor, ticks all the boxes. “There is no small role,” he says. Students from the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Forms are represented in the cast and crew. “As a theatre program we are committed to staging modern plays, but also reclaiming the classics,” adds Macgregor.
 
Antigone at New Space, November 8, 9, and 10, 7:30 p.m. Free. Call 603-229-4780 or e-mail theatre@sps.edu to reserve tickets.
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