Stage Center Theatre’s ‘Antigone’ Gives Modern Take on a Classic


Sarah Fabian

Stage Center presents: “Antigone.” Photo provided by Sarah Fabian. Used with permission.

Joanna Vaklin, Comic Artist

NEIU’s Stage Center Theatre is bringing soothsayers, strong women and Trumpian-like rulers to the stage with the production of “Antigone,” the classic Greek tragedy about resistance.

The show opened Oct. 18 and will run until the weekend of Oct. 27. NEIU students with a school ID can attend this fun, thought-provoking adaptation for free.

“The audience will be surprised at how much there is to relate in this play,” said Director John Bliss.
This is the first play of the fall 2018 theatre season. Bliss said, “I wanted this play to go up before the elections. The play itself is a political play. The central conflict is between laws of man and nature law.”

“Antigone” provides many similarities to our current political climate. Even the cast drew parallels between the play and modern day.

Bliss said, “Many times in rehearsal, people would comment on, ‘Oh my god, this relates so much to what’s happening right now.’”

NEIU student Ian Williams said the play carries a lot of weight in terms of political representation. Williams plays Creon, the “big bad” character of the show who is a fascist-like ruler.

Antigone, played by NEIU student Suzzane Navarrete, goes against Creon. Antigone tries to show people their rights as citizens. Navarrete said Antigone wants to gather individuals to “follow me and the people instead of following a crazy ruler.”

This classic play was first written by Sophocles in 441 B.C.E. and then adapted by German playwright Bertolt Brecht.

“Brecht was living in nazi Germany, so he wrote this play right after the second World War,” Bliss said.

This play is very much about resistance, about ordinary people standing up against a tyrannical government.

This show spotlights many of the political and societal conflicts between women and men that have been around for ages.

“[They] are really brought forward in a new, meaningful way,” Bliss said.

Bliss said Antigone follows the story of “a young strong woman and a very Trumpian leader.” Bliss knew that he wanted to cast a caucasian man as Creon and have a woman of color play Antigone.
This contrast of ethnicity creates a conversation for the audience.

“Theatre is vision and you see this image and it brings thoughts in your own head about what that means,” Bliss said.

The “Antigone” ensemble strived to keep the play visually interesting in all aspects. According to Bliss, there are a lot of things “happening technically in terms of light and sound” throughout the performance.

The language of the play is easy for modern audiences to follow.

“[It’s] a good mix between modern and regal language. There is a lot of gravity in what you’re saying,” Williams said.

Navarrete said her favorite part of rehearsal was learning the script.

“It was challenging but interesting at the same time,” Navarrete said. “In one monologue you can have four different emotions.”

Williams said students will enjoy the performance. The cast and crew encourage people to come watch the show.

“You have this at your feet, why not?” Williams said.