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UT students take on timeless Greek tragedy October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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Where does one’s duty lie: with the state or with a higher power? > And who is the patriot, the one who pays blind obedience to the law of the land, or the one who protests against those in power to bring about righteous change?

Yes, it’s time again for the ageless issues presented in a classic play to mirror our current times. This time, the play is the Greek tragedy “Antigone,” opening Thursday, November 1, and continuing through November 11 at the University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Lab Theatre.

But over the last two seasons, the University of Tennessee theater has presented such plays as “Born Yesterday,” “All Our Sons” and this season’s “Major Barbara” whose themes, political corruption, war profiteering, and the role of religion in politics and war, are so universal as to be eerily relevant to current issues.

“Antigone” is a tragedy by Sophocles, written around 442 B.C. It’s based on the myth of Antigone, who defies Creon, the King of Thebes and her uncle. Antigone’s brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, had agreed to share the throne following the abdication of their father, Oedipus. They are to take turns ruling, but Eteocles goes first and then refuses to give up the throne. Polyneices wages war against his brother, and both die at each other’s hands. Because he fought against Thebes, Creon decrees that Polyneices will remain unburied and denied the proper burial rites, while the duplicitous Eteocles is given a hero’s burial.

Antigone believes Creon’s decision to be against the will of the gods. She vows to bury Polyneices herself. After she is caught with the body, the King condemns Antigone to death. She is sealed in a cave to starve to death. A prophet’s prediction that will be pay “corpse for corpse, and flesh for flesh” changes Creon’s mind. But it is too late. Antigone has committed suicide, and her death sets off a chain reaction that robs the king of his own family.

UT’s modern-dress production uses a translation by the French dramatist Jean Anouilh, which debuted in 1944 during the Nazi occupation of France. He used the play as an allegorical criticism of his countrymen who collaborated with the Nazis.

“Antigone” is part of the Studio Series at the Clarence Brown Theatre. The actors and designers for the production are all students in the theater department’s professional training program. The cast is Tina Arfaee, Patrick Bibb, Seth Crowe, Ash Edwards, Lauren Pennline, Jim Eernisse, Christen Gee, Adam Heffernan, Mark Jennings, Rachel Winfrey, Kelley Kee, Mitch Miller and Matt Lyscas. The production-design team is Morgan Matens (scenic design), Amy Xiques (costume design) and Catherine Girardi (lighting design).

The director is Kate Buckley, a new assistant professor of theater and directing at UT. She is a founding member of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, was artistic director of The Next Theatre in Chicago, and has directed for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Goodman Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

‘ANTIGONE’ > UT’s Clarence Brown Lab Theatre, 7:30p.m.Thursday-Friday, November 1-2, Sunday, November 4,Tuesday-Friday, November 6-9; matinees at 2p.m. Sunday, November 4 and 11. Tickets: $10, $5 for students, at Tickets Unlimited outlets(865-656-4444) and the Clarence Brown Theatre box office (865-974-5161).

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