It’s 3 in the afternoon and an energetic voice picks up. I can hear the excitement and effort put into making this a great show before mentioning the name. The voice belongs to Andrea Demetriades, and the play in discussion is Antigone.
Antigone is a play that deals with hate, justice and community all in the context of war. Over 2500 years after it was written, Sport for Jove is putting on an adapted production with Andrea Demetriades as the passionate heroine, Antigone.
I feel as if it is still so relevant. You do wonder why this play that’s 2500 years old, has relevance with characters so flawed. There is no ‘bad guy’ in the play, as there shouldn’t be. We are all flawed human beings, so even Antigone has vanity and has all these lines revolving around herself. But she’s heroic – I mean she’s a young girl who decides to defy her uncle Creon [played by William Zappa]. That doesn’t mean she’s right. Meanwhile Creon is a very diplomatic, democratic leader. In this hubris which they both have, he believes he can defy the Gods (or a world we don’t understand yet).”
Andrea makes a great point about the complexity of the characters in this timeless play. Everyone fights with themselves and others about what is honourable for the dead and the living. It makes for attractive charisma to each character what have great points. We agree best productions have no villain, and in this year’s communal exploration of moving on and doing right, we see both sides of the coin.
Sophocles is amazing, he really did write a play that is universal, and he is a man who wrote this amazing female character. Damien Ryan and Terry Karabelas [co-directors] have adapted Antigone for a contemporary audience to relate to intrinsically. It’s not too classic that the language detaches you, or too modern that it gets annoying. It’s beautifully written and still poetic.”
I can hear her voice perk up as she announces proudly “We’ve got a chorus!” It’s a brave choice by Ryan to put bodies on the stage, but ultimately beautiful and beneficial to the sense of community and conflicting thoughts Antigone has always been about. It gives the people of Thebes a renewed voice in the ever-changing play, but also gives insight to refugees and war-surviving families. “There’s 11 people in the cast, so it’s extraordinary to see that many people on stage and that many people employed. A lot of modern productions get rid of the chorus because it’s one of the scariest thing to put on stage. It’s a very Grecian-Roman device, but they amplify the really important ideas of the play.”
Everyone has given such a rich life to their characters that you think ‘Ooh that’s a really cool character, maybe I could give it a go’ but that’s a testament to their ability. I would always choose to play Antigone and show young girls they can kick ass and speak up for what they believe in. Antigone is the ultimate fighter, fighting for what she believes in as a young girl. I just want to make a little girl who sits in the audience go ‘She’s cool, she’s tough, she’s outspoken. I can do that!'” Andrea, who has a history with sassy characters that stick to their guns, laughs at the recognition. “I don’t like to be confrontational (my boyfriend might say otherwise!) but it’s empowering to bring life to these characters, and I’m lucky I can present these roles.”
The luck continues with having co-directors for this performance. According to Andrea, who people meant there was a keen eye on everything. It upped the energy and enthusiasm for doing the play and it’s real-life links justice. “Damien has taught this play in schools and been in love with this play for a long time. Terry’s Greek is beautiful and he’s translated some of it too which is really great. With the issues of ISIS and terrorism, which the play obviously delves very deep into, I feel as if there are all these forgotten people; mothers and children, families and communities. The play focuses on burial, which is not just good for a person, but for a whole community, a whole country, a whole world to move on. We need to bury the hate, and of course that doesn’t excuse the atrocities. Antigone knows her brother did bad things but she needs to bury him, because to bury is to move on.”
Throughout the conversation Andrea has mentioned inspirations from reality, such as a 2014 Syrian production that focused on burial of lost children who fought as terrorists. Even the recent Boston bombing and the controversy that arose when the bomber boy’s body was found and could not be buried in a marked grave. “This is one story of millions of stories about what war does and how hard it is to rebuild a war-torn community. Antigone has a beautiful line saying, ‘Not that my story is special, so many children have died here. There’s nothing special about me.’ Just reading stories and experiencing this play reminded me, and will hopefully remind others, how lucky and detached we are in the country.”
Sabrina Stubbs – Theatre Now & Talking Arts
Sabrina is an independent filmmaker, actress, writer and freelance journalist. Currently studying Communications at the University of Technology Sydney, she has a strong background in the arts and media industries while continuing to undertake passions she loves like travelling around the world and patting any cat or dog she comes across. Twitter: @SabrinaStubbs