Friday, June 12, 2009

Play of the Week: Antigone

We all know the story of Antigone. Antigone stands up for her family and for her beliefs and is persecuted by the unmoving state. The tale has been told and retold through out the ages as a story of freedom and of defying tyranny. In today's version of play of the week we are going to concentrate on the version by Jean Anouilh.

The play is a fairly straight forward retelling of story. Other than a few minor changes the majority of the plot is in tact. What makes this production interesting is that it was first performed in 1944 in Nazi-occupied Paris. This was a time when the Nazi's were sensoring basically everything against any anti-regime content.

So imagine yourself in the theatre on opening night. You're a Parisian who's in on the idea that Antigone, the oppressed, is representative of you and your country. Creon, the evil dictator, is represented by the German guards outside the theatre - or perhaps even keeping guard at the back of the audience to make sure there is no objectionable content in this play. The lights go down and out steps a man wearing a beret and smoking a cigarette. He does not utters the opening lines, not as it is often translated in English ("So here we are.") but instead he says a single word: "Voila."

There is something so inherrantly French about this play that you cannot forget when you are reading, attending, or performing this play. Once you keep that in mind, the script becomes much more fluid - even poetic. Take some time this weekend to find a copy of this version and read it while you let yourself be transported to Paris of the 1940's.

Happy Birthday: Uta Hagen (1919-2004)

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