This year, students at the Beethoven campus have been worked hard to prepare their performance of a modernized version of the Greek tragedy Antigone. In this article, we will plunge into the backstage work that went into presenting a show of this caliber.
So What's the Story?
Our production of Antigone was an adaptation of the well-known Greek classic that tells the sad tale of young Antigone. When her brothers are both killed at war, one protecting the city of Thebes, the other attacking it, the new king Creon decrees that only one will be granted burial rights. The other will be left lying where he fell. Upon hearing this decree, Antigone pleads for her sister Ismene to help her bury her brother. When Ismene refuses, Antigone decides to bury him herself. Tragically, she is caught in the act and brought before Creon to hear her fate.
Modernizing a Classic: No Easy Task!
Trying to adapt a show this old for a modern and young audience is no easy feat, as director Susie Shreeve said:
"The language used in the play is a big challenge. Although we are using a modern translation, this isn't every day language, so we needed to find ways to make the play as visually interesting as possible. Another problem is the long speeches. Some of Antigone's and Creon's lines have been shared with the choruses; however, there are still long speeches, which is a big challenge for the actors because they need to find ways to engage the audience."
Another difficulty in creating this play was the setting. According to Ms Shreeve:
"A lot of people thought it should be set in Ancient Greece. However, I think it needs to be more modern to make it relevant to a 21st century audience. But the problem which is central to the play is that Antigone is prevented from burying her brothers, which doesn't resonate today, so after lots of discussions, we decided to set it in the future in a post-apocalyptic world."
Despite this, after seeing the play, the audience will be able to understand how the story has remained relevant, for, as Ms Shreeve says, "it deals with an individual standing up against authority, and conflict with families". There will never come a time when these themes are no longer essential and heavily debated.
Rehearsals: Managing Upcoming Stars!
Auditions were open to all, which created a wide range of skills and personalities. Despite this, the atmosphere at rehearsals was always comfortable and friendly, especially since the director brought cookies!
Both Ms Shreeve and the star of the play, Nina, agree with this. Ms Shreeve worked hard to create this atmosphere. She says:
"I believe it's important to create the right atmosphere, in which everyone can collaborate and share their ideas. The best rehearsals are the ones in which a scene comes together and everyone feels a sense of accomplishment. Of course, some rehearsals were frustrating, particularly when a scene didn't come together, or if cast members were absent or didn't know their lines. There were external pressures such as Personal Projects, tests, individual assessments, sporting fixtures, etc. which impacted the productivity of a rehearsal. Overall, the Antigone cast was a very committed, generous, and talented group of people, so rehearsals were usually enjoyable with lots of laughter (and cookies)!"
Nina thought that she succeeded in this respect, telling us that "the atmosphere was super friendly, everyone like each other, we became a team as everyone got to know each other"!
Quality Requires Structure!
To present something of quality, the actors and creative team alike stuck to a rigid rehearsal schedule. As we got closer to opening night, Ms Shreeve shifted the majority of her focus and energy to the production. With at least three rehearsals a week to not only attend but direct, putting on this production was a massive job for the director. There were even rehearsals on Saturday! These Saturday rehearsals were an exciting and stressful time, as these were the times the whole cast came together to organize the technical parts of the production, including set and props. The cast got to watch, and the gym got transformed into a post-apocalyptic world. And the magic of the theatre commenced!
- high school play