New adaptation of ‘Antigone’ to be played out by Theatre Simpson

by Emili JohnsonStaff Writer

Theatre Simpson will be opening up the season with a new adaptation of the Greek tragedy “Antigone,” which was originally written by Sophocles. The version being performed at Simpson is titled “Antigone: Speaking Truth.”

The adapatation still tells the story of how the main character, Antigone, played by freshman Tiffany Flory, fights the many injustices from Greek ruler Creon to have her beloved brother buried.

Jennifer Ross Nostrala, professor of theatre arts, has directed and written this variation and hopes that people will see how relevant this story is to issues that plague our society today. Nostrala felt intrigued by Antigone, a woman in her society that has no power and fights for justice.

“She [Antigone] believes that the person in power has done a wrong and she is willing to risk everything to attempt to right that wrong,” Nostrala said. “She dies in the end, but her doing this teaches us all a lesson.”

This is the first time that Nostrala has written her own adaptation of a play, but she felt this was a play that she really wanted to do. Nostrala, who was on sabbatical last spring, spent a lot of time reading different versions of the play.

“I took bits from other Greek plays like “Euripides” and “The Venetian Women” and I put that within this play,” Nostrala said.

Nostrala feels that she had a lot more flexibility to change and edit things as she was seeing the actors play out the scenes on stage. She also felt that it was very important to include a back-story to the play, and for the audience to see how previous events put the play where it’s at when Antigone comes into the picture.

“I know that I wasn’t given a final product, so I knew that the play wasn’t complete,” Nostrala said.

Along with her adaptation, Nostrala wanted to change the location and the time of the story. In her version, the play takes place during present-time in a Middle-Eastern country.

Senior Jonathan Feld is serving for the first time as a costume designer. Given the play’s setting, Feld felt that it was very important to stay true to the culture.

Much of his inspiration for costume was drawn from countries like Iran, Morocco and Turkey. Feld wanted the costumes to reflect the general ideas of the play as well as the country’s prominence.

“I wanted to make sure that this country didn’t look like a third-world country,” Feld said. “It [the country] was still a rich nation that had a well-developed military and other things like that.”

One issue that Feld ran into was the fact that many Middle-Eastern countries are drawing more and more from Western culture. To stay true to the culture, Feld chose a color scheme with lots of earth tones and various splashes of color such as purple and red.

“The test was to add Middle-Eastern flare,” Feld said. “We have lots of head wraps, sandals and things like that which are customary other there.”

Senior Mackenzie Webb, who was cast as Jocasta, grandmother of Antigone, and as one of Creon’s advisors, was thrilled to participate in this production. Webb feels that there are many issues in the play that can relate to our American society.

Webb, who has been involved with the majority of plays that the theatre department has produced since her freshman year, feels that this play has really challenged her.

“I think the challenge from me with Jocasta and the advisors was that the Greeks love the human form and they love to be really big and have expansive arm movements,” Webb said. “For me as an actor on stage, that was really difficult.”

Webb is also very excited to be working with Nostrala on this adaptation. She also feels that in many ways, she can relate to her characters, especially Jocasta.

“She [Jocasta] has an opening monologue that talks about how she longs for peace and about the turmoil that has been going on with her sons,” Webb said. “I am not a mother, but it’s easy to imagine how awful you would feel if your two sons were battling each other to the death, literally.”

The play will open this weekend. An intense project, Nostrala feels that the theatre department works as a company, that everyone is important and treated as an equal.

“We need everyone to make this whole project work.” Nostrala said. “It’s a huge project, people are putting in hundreds and hundreds of hours and everybody has to be at a strong level of commitment to make it happen.”