‘AntigoneNOW’ Production Set in Time of Coronavirus

photo of actors
A composite of three actors who will appear in AntigoneNOW. Mayuko Agari (in yellow) is in Japan. The others are in California. All will perform remotely in a modern interpretation of the classic play.

Production will be streamed for 24 hours Saturday

By Michael French, College of Letters and Science

The UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance will present a radical new hybrid performance film of Sophocles’ classic tragedy titled AntigoneNOW. It will be streamed free online for 24 hours: all day Saturday (May 23), from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.

AntigoneNOW features a culturally diverse ensemble of female-identifying actors, each in seclusion due to COVID-19, who will evoke the breadth of Antigone’s defiance against devastating loss: the inability to touch or bury the dead body of her brother. Made collectively in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore and Japan using mobile phones, IPads and video, this cast and creative team create a unique new work that confronts the isolation of our moment.

The production is based on the translation of Antigone by Seamus Heaney with permission by Faber & Faber.

Antigone learns that her brothers have killed each other after being forced onto opposing sides of a battle. When Creon, the king, grants burial of one but not the “treacherous” other, Antigone defies his order, believing it her duty to bury all of her close kin. The tragedy remains a timely exploration of the conflict between those who affirm an individual’s human rights and those who must protect the state’s security.

“When it was clear that COVID-19 would impact our campus, I was moved to consider how we could allow this moment in history to positively impact our learning community and our intended production of Antigone,” said Margaret Laurena Kemp, co-director and associate professor of theatre and dance. “As an artist and instructor, my call to action is to model collaboration, research, creativity and community engagement through performance and theatre-making practices. For me this is the value of theatre and dance at a tier one research institution. Our hybrid approach to Antigone, answers the call.”

Incorporating polyphonic vocalization, movement and choral motifs, the production is co-directed by award-winning Irish director and UC Davis Granada Artist-in-Residence Sinéad Rushe. She is a theatre director, performer and teacher of acting, specializing in the Michael Chekhov Technique and Vsevolod Meyerhold’s Biomechanics. 

The creative team includes spoken-word composer Dahlak Brathwaite (B.A., theatre and dance, ‘08), movement consultant and choreographer Roger Ellis; sound designer Jennifer Grace, UC Davis graduate student in theatre and dance; additional sound design by Owen Marshall, UC Davis postdoctoral scholar and lecturer in science and technology studies; and digital media advisor Lishan Az, UC Davis assistant professor of cinema and digital media.   

For details about accessing the performance online, visit the arts website. 

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