Westminster College gives “Antigone” a modern-day spin

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As a part of their 42 annual Classical Greek Theatre Festival, Westminster College’s department of theatre brought a modernized performance of Sophocles’ ancient play “Antigone” to BYU audiences Monday night.

“Antigone”, which focuses on protest, rebellion, and family loyalty, was performed in a very non-traditional fashion. Director Larry West wanted to send the message that even a story written thousands of years ago can find relevance to today’s audiences.

“We haven’t changed the script,” West said, “but we’ve changed the approach to Sophocles’ play and made it extremely contemporary.”

Several changes were made in order to achieve this overall contemporary feel, the most obvious being a heavy use of technology. Cast members carried iPads and cell phones throughout the story to represent how quickly information travels and to reflect on the role social media plays today.

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Westminster College's Classical Greek Theatre puts a modern twist on Sophocles' 'Antigone.'
Actors also wore modern, desert-rebel style costumes, and the play often relied on present-day music and soundbites.

West said his inspiration for modernizing the story came from Time magazine’s 2011 selection for Person of the Year: “The Protestor”. When West studied the image on Time magazine’s cover, he was reminded of Antigone.

“Antigone is the prototype of protest in our contemporary world,” West said. “I don’t want students to think it’s a story rooted in 2500 year-old tradition, because it’s not. It’s very modern.”

Kirstin Skankey, a BYU junior who hails from Arizona and is studying animation, has watched performances of “Antigone” before. She thought this performance had new things to offer its audience.

“It shed a new light on the story artistically,” Skankey said. “There was less distraction from the simple set, too.”

Tory Anderson, BYU senior, has done a significant amount of studying and writing on the text of “Antigone”. Anderson, who is from Levan, Utah and studying linguistics, was not expecting the direction Westminster College went.

“I was surprised at the approach they took and the things they chose to emphasize,” Anderson said. “There was a lot of emphasis on gender rolls and tyranny.”

Despite the variations from traditional performances, Anderson enjoyed the twists in the modern rendition.

“My favorite moment was when it first shifted from traditional music to the modern hip-hop and techo,” Anderson said.

“Antigone” has a script that focuses heavily the ordinary citizen, and what justice they face when they go against their ruler. “Antigone” is considered a classic tragedy, as most of the main characters are dead by the end of the play.

Hailey Brown, a junior from Logan studying wildlife and wildlands conservation, was impressed with the overall take on the classic story.

“I loved it,” Brown said. “I thought it was so creative, and the story is so timeless. I loved how they made the characters repressed, yet gave them electronics at the same time.”

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