"Antigone:" The Timeless and Hidden Play
When I first reserved my ticket to see the Skidmore studio lab Antigone, I received an email response telling me to keep the production’s location in the chapel a secret (hopefully it has since been declassified). At first, I was confused, and thought the idea was dramatic- even for the theater. Upon arriving, someone verified I had a ticket, and led me to a back entrance. The audience formed a semicircle around the stage, with an aisle running through the center. As the play began, the elaborate entry process started to make perfect sense.
This version of Antigone is an adaptation by Bertolt Brecht set during World War II in Germany, when books and art in general were outlawed by the Nazis. The “secrecy” surrounding the performance made the audience feel like they were really seeing a banned play, hiding in a chapel from a fascist regime, and gave the entire show a sophisticated, meta quality.
That being said, the play underwent more changes in Skidmore's production. Director Rachel Karp ’18 further adapted Brecht’s version by changing the setting to the United States in the modern day. The tyrant Kreon, who was essentially Hitler in Brecht’s version, bore strong resemblance to Donald Trump, and the soldiers wore US military attire.
The fact that the story of Antigone can be applied to so many different eras shows the timelessness of the tale, though I did wonder why the director did not change the dialogue to match the setting. The characters speak using Greek locations and titles, which is loyal to the source material, but comes across as very anachronistic. Editing the dialogue would have helped the audience better understand the changes, since the costumes ended up being the only thing to indicate the new setting.
In terms of performances, Ellie Strayer ’20 was a very moving Antigone. Her death scene—in which she stood elevated in the center aisle so the audience could watch her shadow—was powerful, as well as a technical feat for a play staged in the chapel. Mira Lamson Klein ’18 delivered a commanding performance as Kreon, stealing the attention of the audience whenever she spoke.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the euphonious original music by Alexandra Dennis ’18, Lena Schwarz ’19, and Erika Dodge ’20, who were also actors in the show. The music was well complimented by the acoustics of the chapel. Perhaps that is why they chose it as their top-secret location.
Overall, the studio lab of Antigone was an enjoyable experience from the moment I reserved a ticket, to the moment I left the hidden play.
Final Score: 7/10
(photo provided by Dante Haughton '19)