“Classic but relevant.” Directors Greta Kelly and Lorna Govan sat down with The Saint to discuss their upcoming production of Antigone, showing in the Barron on October 10-11. “We like Greek tragedies. It is such a classic play, and Greek tragedies are so great because they have so much human emotion in them, that’s something that everyone can relate to in Antigone”- says Lorna.
This is the duo’s second direction, and it is an ambitious undertaking. Antigone, the classic tragedy of Sophocles, has been reimagined and put on stage countless times. It is a story of a young women who disavows the judgement of her uncle, the king as it is against what she believes to be in accordance with the ‘divine’ rules, or simply the rules of morality. She is willing sacrifice all for her beliefs, and by a series of consequent events, urges the king revise his flawed judgement.
It is truly a classic play, and the directors are aware of its challenges. “It’s definitely a lot of pressure” – Lorna says. – “A lot of people really love this play – including us – so we really just want to do it and them some justice.”
“People have a lot of preconceptions about what it is” – adds Greta Kelly – “and the casting was quite tricky as well, because the chemistry between the characters is so important, we wanted to make sure that we got that chemistry between the actors right.”
Their effort was not in vain, as now they can begin rehearsals with “really good cast”. “We’re really excited to work with them, and our producer [Isabel Steele] is really great as well. She did our first year play with us. We’ve done all our plays together actually” – they recall.
Their interpretation of Antigone will be very focused on topicality. “We’re going for a very modern take on it, which we’re very excited about. We have a lot of plans for a sort of unconventional seating and set as well. We want to incorporate a lot of imagery from news that is happening at the moment, keep it really current.”
The idea for staging this play has been in the director’s minds since half-way through last year, and they credit its timeless relevance and strong female lead as their inspiration. “We really liked how relevant it was for a lot of situations that are happening today.” – says Greta. – “For example, women standing up against a lot of political injustice, like the referendum in Ireland or the #MeToo movement, standing up against big governing bodies or the film industry as a whole. [In this play] one woman is standing up against what she perceives as political injustice as well.”
They believe that the play provides an eternal dilemma, and something that we frequently come across today in the political sense as well. “It is also about the idea of social stability or a country’s stability versus morality, people kind of making sure that their priorities are right. We thought that with referendums and situations in the minute like the refugee crisis, a lot of times countries have [a dilemma] between having financial stability while also having a moral obligation to help people. What countries choose to do when faced with this decision [..] is similar to one of the key themes [of the play].”
The feminist aspect of the play is also represented in the whole production process. Behind the strong female lead is an all-female technical crew, running things in the background. “Our producer, our tech person, our marketing person and obviously, us two, we’re all women. Having an all-female crew, we like having that female empowerment as a big aspect of the plays that we do. Our first play also had an all-female cast, and was about mental health issues with women.”
The messages that they hope the audience will take away are quite well-defined and important. “One part of it is to question their own priorities, because that’s something that I think is quite important on a national level” –says Greta. – “People questioning what is important to them – is it helping other people, is it family? – and if they would put that at risk for their own safety or political security. Would they give up their own beliefs in what’s right for a good economy or financial situation? I think that is a good question that the play asks.”