‘Antigone’ Set To Open BC Theater’s Spring Season

The "Antigone" cast during rehearsals. (From L to R) Owen Alleyne (BFA ‘22), Susan Myburgh (MFA ‘23), and Antonyio Artis (BFA ‘22)./Patrick Sabongui

By Michela Arlia 

   The curtain rises once again as BC’s Theater Department opens the first show of the semester, “Antigone,” on Mar. 4. With the play set to have in-person audiences at the New Workshop Theatre, the crew and production team are preparing to deliver live performances soon. 

   “Antigone” is a tragedy written by the Greek philosopher Sophocles and is the third installment of a trilogy. The play follows Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, as her two brothers Eteocles and Polyneices kill each other in a civil war. When the new king of the land, Kreon, forbids a proper burial of the brothers, the young woman is propelled to defy the law and bring honor to her brothers by burying them properly. 

   The driving force behind choosing this play for director Zachary Tomlinson laid in how the centuries-old work speaks to many aspects of what is happening today within the school community, on our streets, and nationwide. 

   “I felt we needed a play that speaks to the power of protest and the difference between what is legal and what is right,” said Tomlinson, who graduated from the department’s MFA program in directing in 2021. “I think ‘Antigone’ has, unfortunately, become even more relevant in light of the gross mishandling of the pandemic by government leaders and the catastrophic impact that power and bad judgment can have.” 

   Despite the negatives and social issues targeted by the play that can relate to the present day, Tomlinson says there is a good message to be learned from “Antigone.” 

   “This play is also about a family and people who love each other fiercely in spite of bitter disagreements,” he said. 

   For Julieanna Stolley, a first-year MFA student who plays the show’s title role, taking on a fierce and passionate female character, who knows her right from her wrong, was something that first drew her to auditioning for Antigone. 

   “Antigone is a woman I see very close to myself,” explained Stolley. “I wanted to be able to play a woman with both feminine and masculine rage. Explore what is believed to be inherently a male emotion even though we women are just as angry.”

   As Stolley was fully prepared for encapsulating Antigone’s essence, on the other side of the coin was initial concern from the production’s other main actor. 

   “Roles like Kreon scare me,” said Antonyio Artis, who plays Kreon. “The most breakthroughs come from doing roles that scare you. So, I said, bring it on!”

   This rendition of the play will be a translated version written by Anne Carlson and performed in the New Workshop Theatre, a black box space that is often considered more intimate than the traditional stage. A classic tragedy such as “Antigone” usually calls for a proscenium stage for performance, such as the Don Buchwald Theater on campus, but both actors and director agreed that a non-traditional space for their performance is most ideal. 

   “We are configuring the seating in a three-quarter round or thrust, which puts the action right in the middle of the audience,” said Tomlinson, who noted that black box provides a blank slate, where the position of the audience will give some familiarity to the play’s roots. 

 “It also mirrors the design of Ancient Greek theater, which placed the audience in a semi-circle around the stage.”

   Stolley finds the space beneficial to the art of theater and being able to connect with the audience in a positive way. “If we were to be in a proscenium I think it would be easier for the audience to separate itself from this story and just be spectators,” said Stolley. “However in a black box production, the audience becomes a part of the cast and has to lose what we lose.”

    As the “Antigone” crew continues preparing an immersive experience for theater-goers, one challenge for the cast that has been ever-present is rehearsing with masks and other COVID protocols. Nonetheless, this has not stopped anyone in the rehearsal or production process. Ecstatic to be back on stage, Artis expressed how great it feels to not only perform live but to perform in front of an audience. “Live [theater] is my passion and a huge part of why I perform,” he said. 

   For Director Tomlinson, his top priority is making connections, which he thinks only makes the actors and the overall production better. 

   “Directing is about making connections,” said Tomlinson. “Connections with my fellow artists, connections with the audience, connections between ideas, connections across time and space and imagination to the broad spectrum of human experience.”

   As for lasting impressions for audience members, Stolley says she hopes audiences leave with conversation topics of family, emotions, and loyalty, while Artis and Tomlinson focus on one key theme: judgment. 

   “I would love for the audience to take away the importance of good judgment. Bad judgment can do us terrible harm,” Artis said. “We must not be distracted by things that will diminish our empathy.”

   “Antigone” opens in the New Workshop Theater on Mar. 4 and runs through Mar. 8. 

 

   

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