Laws of nature versus man. Misogyny and elitism. Dissent as a crime. These themes and more are explored in Antigone by Sophocles, adapted by Cornell University Department of Performing and Media Arts professor David Feldshuh and recently produced at Baltimore Center Stage to sold-out audiences in March 2019.
Daniel Bryant, the Director of Community Programs and Artistic Producer of Center Stage and the director of the production, says he was drawn to the adaptation because of the timeliness of its themes, its faithfulness to the source material, and its “crystal clear” presentation of Sophocles’ arguments.
The play was performed in Baltimore by Center Stage’s Mobile Unit, a group that seeks to make art accessible to the greater community by bringing theatre to “nontraditional theatre spaces with nontraditional audiences,” which include the homeless, elderly, and incarcerated, many of whom have not been exposed to theatre before.
Feldshuh’s adaptation of Antigone is available online to anyone without charge, which is another reason why Bryant was attracted to the project. “The adaptation is out there for the people just as our production was for the people,” says Bryant.
The Baltimore production went even further to ground itself in the community by reimagining the chorus, commissioning original poetry from local Baltimore poet and 2016 National Poetry Slam Champion Lady Brion to fill the choral interludes. In doing so, Bryant says, they were successful in “creating another level of relevance in language to make the play ring true to a modern audience.”
Bryan Hagelin '20 is a communications assistant in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. This story also appeared on the Perfoming & Media Arts website.