“Antigone” Live Performance Analysis and Review
The live dramatic performance “Antigone” at YISS was quite impressive. With performances held from October 20, 2015 to October 30, 2015, tickets were sold at the price of only 5,000 Won. The Blackbox Theatre was the perfect place for this performance because the actors had no choice but to be closer to the audience. This caused the action in the play to seem more realistic in the perspective of the audience. Also, in order for the audience to enter into the theatre, they had to come through a long, black tunnel. This tunnel was also the only way for actors to transport themselves on stage and off stage. Behind the main stage platform, there were confined compartments for different actors. These divisions of the stage made the whole set look very sharp and organized. It is recommended that people under the age of 10 refrain from watching this play. However, various elements along with the connection of the performance with the audience resulted in an indescribable performance.
Principally, the plot of Antigone really plays with the minds of the audience. To begin with, the Prologue sets the stage by informing the audience that Haemon has asked Antigone to marry him at a ball. However, her only destiny is to die young, if she does not marry him at all. Her consequence is to be condemned to death by her uncle Creon, king of Thebes and the father of Haemon. This consequence is for disobeying Creon’s order to leave the dead body of her brother Polynices outside the city. Both Polynices and his brother Eteocles died in their struggle to become the ruler of Thebes. At this point, Haemon is confused by the fact that his dream of marrying Antigone and having children is crushed. Shortly afterwards, Private Jonas brings a message to Creon saying that during the night, someone had buried Polynices’ dead body underground. Upon hearing this, Antigone is dragged in to Creon by his guards for being caught. She soon tells them that she is the daughter of Oedipus, however, the men do not believe them. Shortly afterwards, Creon sends them away and orders his guards not to tell anyone anything about this. As a result, Antigone ends up giving Polynices proper burial rites because he is her brother. Frustrated with Antigone, Creon tells her that Eteocles and Polynices were in real life, horrific people. According to Creon, Polynices had actually planned to kill his father. At this point, Antigone is crushed. Soon, her sister Ismene comes to her to let her know that she is now willing to help her bury Polynices. However, Antigone rejects the offer. Upon hearing this, the guards take Antigone away. At this point, Antigone is in trouble. The Chorus comes in and begs for Creon to spare Antigone, despite knowing that she is destined to die. Following after them, Haemon comes in to beg his father as well. Meanwhile, Antigone is left alone with Jonas, waiting for her execution. She is to be buried outside of the city. At this point, Antigone offers her gold ring to Haemon and wants for Jonas to send her message to him that she does not know what she is dying for. Now it is the time to suffer for everyone else. Concerned about Antigone, Haemon gets into the tomb of Antigone, only to find that she had hung herself. Upon knowing this, Haemon kills himself and Eurydice does the same. However, Creon is still waiting for his death, but he also still has to rule. As the story comes to an end, the guards are left, playing cards and drinking. Nothing is of there concern. In relation to the plot, Jean Anouilh had been alive during the time period of World War II. He mentions how he consider[s] such matters to be no business of students and teachers of his work (Anouilh v). It is also said that his choice of an ancient mythic theme ending inevitably in death reflects an intense mood of despair in the author as a result of the nation’s experiences at [the] time (Anouilh viii). Therefore, the plot of “Antigone” is quite entertaining and relates to the author Jean Anouilh.
Furthermore, the set design for “Antigone” was very appropriate for the overall mood of the production. Though the space on the stage was very limited, the actors were very close to the audience itself. This as a result, caused the action in the play to seem more realistic in the perspective of the audience. Also, in order for the audience to enter into the theatre, they had to come through a long, black tunnel. This tunnel was also the only way for actors to transport themselves on stage and off stage as well. It, as well as the rest of the set, almost resembled the Secret Annex referred to in The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank. Behind the main stage platform, there were confined compartments for different actors. These divisions of the stage made the whole set look very sharp and organized. Not only did the set appeal to the production, but so did the sound and lighting. Throughout the entire play, the lighting is kept at a dim level with the spotlight on the actors. This played a big role in maintaining both the mysterious and suspenseful mood all through the production. Also, because there was no lighting on the audience at all, this made the actors wonder what they seem to look like in the perspective of the audience. Finally, the music in the beginning of “Antigone” perfectly set the mood for the performance. The music was very mystifying and dark at the same time. This caused the audience to look forward to what was coming their way. Finally, the French narration following this music, greatly contributed to the production. This is because it familiarized the audience with the language of the play. Also, the French narration created a smooth transition into the storytelling of the Chorus. Therefore, the staging, actors, sound and light made an immense impact on the overall picture of “Antigone”.
Moreover, the story of “Antigone” is closely interconnected with our world today. The play revolves around the French resistance fighting against the Nazi German occupation of France. During World War II, the German attack on France began with loads of infantry, armored vehicles, light tanks, etc. As a result, the French were defeated. This caused nearly 80 million refugees from Northern France to advance towards the Germans. In the year of 1940, groups of resistors began appearing in the German occupation zone, Vichy. These groups organized their own escape routes and some people were even smuggled. But by the year of 1944, after the Battle of Paris, with the support of the 2nd Armored Division of France, Paris was liberated. As a result, representatives of the groups joined with the Provisional French government, bringing the Resistance to an end. Because of this, France is free of the Nazi German occupation today.
All in all, being a part of the live performance “Antigone” was such an honor. With fellow cast members and the tech crew, all of the elements: set design, sound and light came together to create a masterpiece. What is most important is that the audience was able to learn of a serious matter that took place in a different time period: the French Resistance against the Nazi German occupation of France. In essence, the story of “Antigone” is one that will be learned from, remembered and cherished until the ends of time.