UI presents modern version of Antigone


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Antigone 2.0 is not your grandmother’s Antigone. At least, that’s how dramaturge Christine Scarfuto describes it.

Not quite the play written by Sophocles, Antigone 2.0 is more contemporary than what one read in high school, and it brings an unexpected flair to the University of Iowa stage.

“We’ve made it a little punk rock in a sense, and we just wanted to make it more accessible and enjoyable,” Scarfuto said. “ ‘Re-emerging’ a play that was written thousands of years ago just updates it and makes it more enjoyable for our audience than how we might have seen it in Ancient Greece.”

This twist on the Ancient Greek classic will come to life on stage at 8 p.m. today in the Theatre Building’s Thayer Theatre. Performances will continue through March 12 at 8 p.m., with a March 6 performances at 2 p.m. Admission is $5 for UI students with valid IDs, $10 for youth, $12 for seniors, and $17 for the general public.

The original story of Antigone focuses on the principle of individuals versus the state. When King Creon tells Antigone that her brother will go unburied because he was a traitor to the state, she chooses to defy the king and bury her brother anyway — even if that means she has to break the law and risk her own death.

“Because the play asks us to think about our individual principles as much as it asks us to consider our responsibilities to our own communities, I think it will always be relevant,” said UI Playwrights’ Workshop student Jen Silverman.

She, with director Carol MacVey, wanted to highlight the relevancy of the play. Silverman’s role was to make the text more current, more fluid, and more accessible.

Aside from changing the language of the play, she included multimedia effects and a hip-hop dance number.

“The Greek choruses used to dance and sing, so we were really trying to go back to that direction,” Scarfuto said. “It’s a more modern, contemporary version than what the Greek chorus might have sung in its day.”

The scenery and props also have a modern take. Based on the concept of what he described as truth, set designer Maylan Thomas created a design in which he explored what can be pulled from the environment, such as large pieces of pine.

“What you are seeing is the real deal. We took all these products to create places for actors to be seen,” he said. “There are things happening on the floor and around you that really pull you in to what is happening on stage.”

In the performance of Antigone 2.0, audience members will become a part of the performance. During the 75-minute show, viewers will stand; there will be no seating, and the audience members will feel as if they are standing in the center of Thebes.

Standing and moving throughout the play is a way to take down the barriers between the audience members and the performance and put them in what’s happening on stage, Scarfuto said.

“We are asking the actors and the audience to interact in a way in which all these words and ideas are swirling around them, and they have to find out what’s happening and what’s going on,” Thomas said. “The discussion can become very alive in our vernacular and describe how Antigone goes through her day-to-day life decisions.”

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