Recreating a classic comes with benefits and costs. You get to explore the precious parts that made the art classic, and yet, this implies the challenge to live up to the original arts and numerous former creations that interpreted the original piece in different styles. Performing Antigone in the 21st century after the original version was written more than 2000 years ago shares the same questions. The audience (a lot of them, presumably) know that Antigone is going to die (Apologies for the spoiler if you did not have the chance to encounter the original story yet) and they are keener on seeing how the production team had called the old heritage to life in their own creative way instead of knowing what’s going to happen to the characters. Antigone performed by the U of M Department of Theater & Drama had clear stances on what it inherited and recreated. I must disclose in advance that this was my only experience of seeing modern recreation of Antigone, so my review lacks any insights from comparison from other works.
The performers managed to bring back the emotions and awe the ancient Greeks felt. All actors placed heavy emphasis on the emotions they were experiencing, the universal emotions like fear, anger, doubt, and sadness. Played with the vigor of young actors, the fear of the oppressor has of the disobedience of the oppressed and the dignity of denouncement were powerfully demonstrated on stage. They also managed to bring more complicated forms of emotional resonance with the ancient Greeks-the rapid change of voice of Tiresias, very impressively done, combined with a sudden change in the color of the lighting to an abnormal red reminded the fear and awe the ancient people had for prophecies, and the dramatic movement of choruses reproduced the grandeur that was a myth was treated with. Energetic yet honoring the old story, the team had done a great job in making the old story still relevant.
The ‘new’ that the production team wanted to add to the project was very clear. It was clearly stated at the very start of the performance. Even before Antigone entered the stage, the chorus marched holding the pictures of women. I was not familiar with who they were, but I could guess from the grave manner that the march was done that they were being honored. To consider the theme of Antigone, my guess is that the women in the picture were the ones who fought for civil rights against oppression. Another thing to notice was that a good proportion of the people in the picture were people of color. The performance was expanding the story and the value celebrated in it outside the fiction from ancient times: they were stating that people, like Antigone, live up to their dignity, and thus we should honor them; the challenge and questions Antigone and other characters faced lived on, and suggest that that’s why we should bring this into awareness in this time in the theater.
One minor regret was that there were parts where it was hard to comprehend what the actors were singing. I think it was due to the combined effect of speaking in ancient styles and echo colliding with each other due to the location of my seat under the Mezzanine floor. Still, this was a well-created performance with details I couldn’t address here due to length but made the old story trendy again.


Snow is so pretty, but a Snow Storm? even better. Likes dramas, but would like to have not too much of them in real life. Enjoys travels and wandering around the city. Obsessed with indie rock.

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