Saturday, April 06, 2013

A Return of Greek Theater: Creative Platypus

Last night, my students staged a production of Antigone by the Greek poet Sophocles.  Though Antigone is the most frequently staged of all the Greek Tragedies it was an ambitious project and I was glad to see the students pull it off (I wonder if they know how great a theatrical triumph that was?!?).  The audience was enthusiastic and the cast ended the night on an ecstatic post-production high with the consuming of many pancakes.

I haven't been involved in such a project since senior year of college when we put on an adaptation of Aeschylus' Oresteia.  Returning to Greek theater has been a real joy for me and I've benefited greatly from the opportunity to take a deep-soak in a classical work.  As with ancient hair-styles, boat-building, composition-in-performance, or recipes, there are things that can only be learned by doing.  Back in college, I had dryly theorized that Antigone's actions are portrayed as "wrong-headed" and that the real focus of the drama are the male characters who are unable to successfully navigate the play's "problem" and put the woman back in her place.  Typical Athenian misogyny.  Seeing the the play actually performed made me wonder if the drama is even really about Antigone so much as it is about Creon and the inherent limits of hereditary monarchy as a form of government.  "Antigone" (masc. Antigonus), after all, means "unyielding" -a word that applies to Creon every bit as much as to the title character.  -just a thought.

More to the point, I am glad that my students have now had a chance to see a book they had all read for class "from the inside."  No longer were they interacting with the world of ancient art and ideas as mere consumers, but they were going on to extend that art and those ideas as creators in their own right.  No longer were they merely experiencing "The Great Conversation," they were participating in it and, in a small way, expanding it.  That makes me happy.

P.S.- When I have pictures I will post them so that you can get a look at costumes, set design, etc.   

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