An Antigone | Adapted from Sophocles
A new play commission by Jen Silverman
Scenic & Lighting Design | Jiyoun Chang
Costume Design | Meg Zeder
Music | Mark Bruckner with original song by Emma Schlamme
The Theater at Gallatin mainstage serves as an opportunity for Gallatin students and recent graduates to collaborate with faculty and professional guest artists on challenging projects. In 2012, in conjunction with the interdisciplinary seminar Antigone(s): Ancient Greece/Performance Now, co-taught by Professor Laura Slatkin and myself, we engaged with the challenge of activating an ancient play in a contemporary landscape. Inspired by Gallatin's Convocation discussions on Sophocles’ Antigone, as well as the many questions raised in the seminar, we re-framed Sophocles' dialectic in an illuminating new adaptation written by guest artist Jen Silverman for our students at Gallatin.
Since the conditions of antiquity are lost to us, rather than attempt to recreate how an Athenian audience might have experienced Antigone we sought inspiration from the ancient traditions of the theater and used them as a departure point rather than a means to an end. Although Silverman’s adaptation remains faithful to the majority of the events in Sophocles’ Antigone, it departs from the original in a few significant ways.
First, it casts the characters much younger. In this version they are children rebuilding their world in the aftermath of civil war. This alters the key relationships: Creon and Antigone become cousins (instead of uncle and niece), and Creon and Haemon become brothers (instead of father and son). Ismene also takes the place of Eurydice in order to raise the stakes in the final body count. Second, it conflates the roles of the chorus, messengers and guards (Franklin, Rat and Runt), imagining them as a new chorus of the “common” servants undergoing their own journey through the play.
Finally, as Silverman eloquently writes, “This adaptation is rooted in the permeating milieu of fear and suspicion that feels most relevant in post-9/11 America. The question at stake is how far will we go, as a society to feel safe in our homes? What freedoms will we sacrifice for peace and stability? While this is no real departure from Sophocles’ text, it is a re-focusing that becomes the strong beating heart of this particular adaptation, and one more angle into the original story.”