Antigone: Dare to be a girl
After a sold out run in March, Sophocles’ political thriller returns to the Compagnie Theater Amsterdam in November 2016 with two more chances to #daretobeagirl.
You might think that a play written 2,000 years ago about a girl whose brother is her father, and who is violently murdered for defying the patriarchy, would be somewhat of a hard sell to the modern theatre-going mind.
And, you’d probably be right. So that’s why the play’s Greek-born director Theodora Voutsa has taken lengths to ensure that this original adaptation of Sophocles’ political thriller about a young woman who stands up for what she believes in strikes obvious – and resonant – chords with everybody’s here and now.
‘We took away time and place’ she explains. If I set it in 442 BC and explain that Antigone is in Thebes, it creates a space between the play and the audience. So we took away that space, kept the classical staging and structure of the ancient Greek tragedy, but added images from other periods in history.’
It opens with an explosion. Are we in modern day Syria? 9/11 New York? Or Ancient Greece? The answer is all of these places at once. And as the action of the play unfolds, the audience is inspired through the transformative power of theatre (and a distinctly un-Ancient Greek DJ set) to question the world around them and their own place within it. At least, that’s the desired effect. As Voutsa explains, ‘I want audiences to leave feeling that they are perfect, they are unique and they have the power to create their own reality’.
There’s one particular section of society that Antigone specifically aims to empower. In fact, it’s half of our planet – that half who, as research and evidence proves, still remains perilously unequal to the other.
‘There is a strong female energy in the play’ says Voutsa. ‘Everywhere that I found a strong female image or character, I stole something and made it my own through Antigone’. As such, the play’s fabric is woven through by an entire world of gender equality discourse and experience, resulting in a rich cultural tapestry that incorporates references to women from Rosa Parks to Marina Abramovic, Simone de Beauvoir to Malala Youzefsi.
Antigone kicks off a four-part series of plays in Amsterdam exploring women’s place in society. Charting both a timeline of women’s issues and an evolution in theatre from ancient Greece to post-modern times, productions of Taming of the Shrew, The Glass Menagerie and Miss Julie will follow hot on the heels of Antigone in the next few years. Follow #daretobeagirl to get involved in the debate.
Antigone returns to the Compagnie Theatre Amsterdam for two more nights, on 4 and 25 November 2016. Go to compagnietheater.nl for more details and tickets.
Article first published in A-mag.