On Thursday Nov. 14, Eastern University’s Theatre Department opened its production of the Greek tragedy Antigone. The show focuses on conflicts of power versus relationships and depicts the outcome when one chooses power over everything else. The production was performed four times throughout the weekend, where many students, faculty and family attended. While the audience enjoyed the 90-minute performance, only the cast and crew know the time and dedication it took to put on the show.
Abigail Pardocchi, playing Ismene, describes the rehearsal process as a part of Eastern’s cast. She explains how emotional the rehearsals would become.
“Because it was a Greek tragedy, you had to root everything you were doing in some sort of emotion,” Pardocchi said.
She explains that because of the show’s emotional weight, the cast had to establish a bond and sense of trust throughout the process. While there are a lot of relationships between characters, they never interact with each other on stage. Pardocchi describes the improv exercises they started rehearsals with to create these emotional ties.
“You don’t see these relationships formed, but they still have to be there on stage,” Pardocchi said.
The rehearsal process was long and emotionally draining, but it allowed the cast to form bonds on the stage and off.
Zack Wilson, a sophomore at Eastern University, took the role of the dramaturge in the crew of this production.
“There is a lot of waiting around doing nothing as the cast does things, but I was on headset, and I noticed how much work goes on behind the scenes people don’t realize is so complicated,” Wilson said about the actual performance aspect of the piece.
Throughout the rehearsal process, Wilson’s responsibilities were limited to isolated tasks and coordinating with the director. It was only a week before tech that Wilson was interacting with the other cast and crew.
“For some reason, even though I wasn’t a part of the show until much later, the cast was really welcoming and just accepted me as one of them,” Wilson said.
Cast and crew alike bonded throughout the experience, connecting with each other before they tried to connect to the audience.
While the tragic play is known for its Greek ideals and setting, Eastern’s Theatre Department gave the show its own twist. Eastern’s production of Antigone mixed some classic Greek elements with more modern touches. The costumes provided a modern feel as the actresses and actors were not dressed in the draped fabrics that we normally associate the time to. Instead, the men wore suits and jackets while the chorus wore jeans and t-shirts.
The production also took some creative liberty by gender-bending a few of the leading roles. Antigone demonstrates the male hierarchy of ancient Greece; however, the powerful king, Creon, was played by a female. Other roles were gender-bended as well, including Tiresias and the Chorus Leader. The changes made to the casting of these roles made for an interesting conflict between the female and “male” power struggle in the show. Eastern’s performance of the show had a successful turn out and attributed much success to the theatre’s new Head of Department, Lois Abdelmalek. The play’s first performance held a question and answer session after the bows, allowing Abdelmalek to get feedback on the show and her first producer role at Eastern University.
This show performed at Eastern took a very traditional show and made it their own. As the cast was made up of mostly freshman, the production showcased the Theatre Department’s talented future as they start the process of the Spring musical.