By: Josie Wawrzyniak
The Maryland Ensemble Theatre (MET) is presenting an adaptation of Sophocles’ play, “Antigone”. In this classic Greek tragedy, Antigone is pitted against King Creon and the laws of Thebes. Her two brothers led opposing sides in Thebes’ civil war and died fighting each other. Creon orders the rebel brother’s body not to be sanctified by holy rites and to lie unburied on the battlefield. Antigone’s defense of her brother’s honor leads to fatal consequences.
“Antigone” was written around 422 B.C. by the Greek playwright Sophocles. It was the third of his Theban plays, the other two being Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus. The former is the story of Antigone’s father, King Oedipus, who is infamous for unknowingly killing his father and marrying his mother. These plays are written in the classic Greek style. Each begins with a prologue, and a chorus performs in the background as the observers and citizens of Thebes.
This new adaptation of “Antigone” is written by Reiner Prochaska, a member of the Maryland Ensemble Theatre. His adaptation does not simply retell the original story but deconstructs the themes of honor, integrity, righteousness, grief, and individual versus communal rights.
Prochaska is a familiar performer on the MET stage. He most recently portrayed the character of Reverend Mike in Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them. He has adapted other classic plays for the MET, including The Canterbury Tales, produced in Spring 2010.
The MET’s official press release describes the play: “As this ancient play is retold, the audience is soon taken forward in time to other stories with the same themes, proving how “Antigone”’s moral compass and her defiance of unjust laws have lived on for centuries. The members of the chorus play numerous parts throughout these episodes; although their names may change, their common roles as nurturers, patriarchs, or idealists remain constant throughout the production.
“Prochaska explains why these scene changes are so crucial to this production: ‘Most adaptations seem to stay in the same time and place. My adaptation differs in that sense because I wanted to explore the themes of the story not only in a contemporary context but also in a historical context. One episode is set in 1618 in Germany, one in 1862 in Maryland, and one in 1923 in Southern Ireland. We hope to convey that this story has taken place throughout history and all over the world.’”
“Antigone” is directed by the MET’s associate Artistic Director, Julie Herber. The play’s talented cast features Devin Gaither, Ashley Hall, Joe Jalette, Karen Paone, Reiner Prochaska, Bill Stitely and Vanessa Strickland.
“Antigone” will be performed every Thursday through Sunday (except on Easter, April 8 ) at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre (31 W. Patrick St.) from March 22 to April 15. Showtime is 8 p.m. except on Sundays when shows are at 7 p.m. There is a single Sunday matinee on April 1 at 2 p.m. This performance will be followed by a “talk back” with the writer, the director, members of the cast and a special guest, Linda Pappas Funsch, a Middle East scholar from Frederick Community College. Ticket prices range from $15 to $24. Visit http://marylandensemble.org/Antigone for additional information.