How do you put on a play during a pandemic, when there can be no audience, when players have to distance and wear masks? The theater makers at Williston took that challenge and raised it. They not only produced the Sophocles tragedy Antigone, but also reworked the play, added new character arcs, composed musical accompaniment, and introduced a fundraiser benefiting BIPOC theater workers. There’s no doubt this company achieved what they set out to do: meet the moment.
Making a theatrical production for the screen wasn’t actually as hard as you would think, said Theater Director Emily Ditkovski. The troupe rehearsed Antigone as a stage play. To achieve a final recording, a film crew using three cameras taped two full runs of the play. “The main goal in the editing process is to recreate, for our audiences at home, the experience and feeling of a live performance,” she said.
Antigone, written around 441 B.C.E., is about a young, principled woman standing up to a powerful authority in the face of tyranny and hypocrisy. “But I think what our students wanted to convey,” Ditkovski emphasized, “and why we so heavily adapted the piece, is really the humanity of all of the characters. The characters are multifaceted, and we need to understand this about people in our own lives even when it’s difficult or we don’t agree with someone.” The message of the play is “as relevant as ever,” she added.
Students took on leadership roles as the play evolved. Sage Friedman ’22 assistant directed and envisioned and executed many of the movement sequences. Z Demetriou ’21 composed all of the music, “which became a character in our story,” Ditkovski said. Hannah Cannizzo ’21 was head writer and collated all of the new scenes while creating a new story arc.
“We decided to devise pieces of the show, because we wanted to modernize it,” said Cannizzo. “We wanted to bring it back here, into this century, and make it a little more timeless.”
“I always love turning this responsibility over to them and I am incredibly proud of their leadership on the project,” Ditkovski said. “The whole company, however, collaborated every step of the way and I commend them for being such open hearted theater makers!”
Theater makers strive to change the world for the better with their shows, however the company of Antigone wanted to take this a step further and created a fundraiser to donate to the Black Theatre Coalition (BTC), an organization that gives money to emerging BIPOC theatre makers. You can visit the BTC website to make a contribution or learn more.
The link to the film of the play will be available on the Williston website from November 30 to December 6.