A spectacle of epic proportions! Sophocles’ Antigone will feature a new theatrical score performed by a small army of chorus members, a dynamic set that breathes with the action, and undergraduate, faculty and professional actors, who will launch this ancient script into the heart of contemporary discourse. Following in the Harvard tradition of presenting classic Greek theater in Harvard Stadium, Sophocles' 2,5000-year-old tragic tale of a woman who disobeyed to uphold what is right will take place 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 29 as the final event of the annual ARTS FIRST festival.
ARTS FIRST runs April 26-29, with the first three days of activities taking place in and around Harvard Yard. The fourth and final day of ARTS FIRST will take place for the first time in Allston, with a full-day of free and open-to-the
In addition to being the culmination of ARTS FIRST, the show is a model of humanities studies at the college: It engages in historical, textual, performative, religious, aesthetic and visual elements of the original work -- and has resonance in contemporary political and social issues and movements. A diverse team of undergraduates, with many cultural backgrounds and academic disciplines (including Classics, Linguistics, English, and Theater, Dance & Media), and with varying levels of expertise with the language of Ancient Greek, produced this new translation that is simultaneously accurate to the original meaning of the text, representative of the underlying assumptions and perspectives found in the text’s home culture of ancient Athens, easily comprehensible to a modern English-speaking audience at a high school level of fluency and performable as a script for a modern drama.
The staging is equally cross-discipline, combining elements of visual design, musical composition, theatrical performance and historical consideration. It features an original musical score composed by Mateo Lincoln, of the Music Department, and of course require meticulous budgeting, scheduling, and preparation, as well as marketing and fundraising, by our team of producers. That is not even to mention the actors, who will be bringing the material to life before an unusually large audience.
The experience of reading the text of a play, even many times with much diligence over many years, cannot entirely supplant the experience of watching it be performed. There is a unique ability for drama to inspire an intense, emotional effect in its audience when the action is unfolding right before their eyes. By watching the story play out in real time, the action becomes real and tangible, in a way that merely reading the text is largely incapable. Antigone is a particularly helpful choice to demonstrate this point, since so many students have studied the play purely as a text during their high school careers, if not in college, but have never seen it performed live.
The audience of ancient Greek tragedy would have had a firm grasp on the plot of the play beforehand, so spoilers are not an issue here. In addition, the experience of watching the play in such a similar setting as that of the Ancient Greek amphitheater and the energy that such a large crowd brings to a performance will heighten the emotional intensity of this production in a way no other performance space on campus is able to. The play, which takes place at dusk, shares not only a beautiful set and stadium with its audience, but also the dramatic backdrop of the evening sky. In addition, the stadium’s location activates connections in the Allston community and showcase what the Arts and Humanities at Harvard are all about!
The play is directed by Mitchell Polonsky '19 and produced by Ben Roy '20, and is made possible with support from the OFA, with additional support from the Harvard Classics Department and Harvard Classics Club. The event is free and open to the public.