This multimedia production of Antigone brings a Greek tragedy into a modern era of personal and public communication through iPhones, Skype and Twitter. This ambitious and elegantly composed performance explores the ways in which a nation copes with the fallout of war.
Civil war in Thebes has torn apart Antigone’s family; the warring factions are each led by one of her brothers. Set in the aftermath of this war I Am Not Antigone follows Antigone’s struggles to mourn her brothers equally. This production challenges the narratives we create about war in the name of constructing peace. The Zeitgeist Chorus effectively translates the core elements of Sophocles’ tragedy to a contemporary setting using twitter feeds, news footage and images of contemporary political dissent.
The raw emotion behind this performance is reflected in the tightly controlled direction of each scene. The use of Skype in dialogues between performers transforms their interaction on the stage; no matter where they stand, the audience is able to see their faces. This allows the performers to turn their backs on the audience, a scandalous move in traditional theatre, and brings new meaning to the position of spectator. The actors actually encourage the audience to participate by re-tweeting their videos and images; a bold move that requires great energy from the performers to pull off successfully. A high level of tension and passion cast is maintained by the cast throughout the performance.
While this production is at times bombastic and certain scenes are uncomfortable to watch, it succeeds in engaging its audience in a consideration of the ways in which we use technology to interact with each other and our world.
This is a dynamic piece of theatre which poses awkward questions about our consumption of tragedy online and through social media. To call this production simply a contemporary adaptation of a Greek classic is misleading. This play is intimately bound up in the complexity of contemporary conflicts and a challenge to simplistic explanations of violence in the name of a greater good. It is often the striking ways in which contemporary society differs from the play’s original setting which reinforce the relevance of such an undertaking today. I Am Not Antigone does not offer resolution or a clear path to action, rather, it invites the spectator to reflect upon the consequences, or lack thereof, of their actions.