Did you read the Ancient Greek tragedy Antigone, by Sophocles, in school? I was actually in a college production — performed in Greek. It was much too hard for me, even with my bit part.
But in high school, the play really captured my imagination with its young heroine insisting that the higher laws required her to give her rebel brother a proper burial and the king determined to make an example of rebels.
Anyway, that’s how I remember dinner discussions — my aunt and uncle arguing for the power of the state and me arguing for rebels.
So you may imagine how intrigued I was when I saw that a theater troop was enlisting big stars to bring Antigone (in English) to Ferguson, Missouri, to generate a community dialogue. Ferguson was where the majority of Americans first became aware of the issues that have led to the Black Lives Matter movement.
National Public Radio alerted listeners to the event, here.
“WILLIS RYDER ARNOLD (REPORTER): Bryan Doerries is a director who puts on ancient Greek plays. He says his productions aren’t boring classroom exercises.
“BRYAN DOERRIES: These are readings on steroids, and spit is flying and tears are projectile crying off the stage, and sounds are coming up out of the actors that they’ve never heard themselves make before.
“ARNOLD: After the performance, Doerries asks the audience to react. He leads a conversation that can take as long as the actual play. For him, the performance is a chance to ask some deeper questions.
“DOERRIES: How many different ways can we give you, as the audience, permission to have a conversation that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, to speak your personal truths, to be acknowledged and heard?
“ARNOLD: A local resident urged Doerries to bring his project to Ferguson. Doerries will present ‘Antigone.’ ”
The plan for “Antigone in Ferguson,” developed by Outside the Wire and the PopTech Institute, and co-presented by the Onassis Foundation USA, was as follows:
“Screening of selected segments from the documentary Antigone in Ferguson, followed by a dramatic reading of scenes from Antigone with Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards, The Wire), Gloria Reuben (ER), Glenn Davis (24, The Unit), and Samira Wiley (Orange Is the New Black).
“The reading will be followed by a town hall discussion, framed by remarks from community panelists — including members of law enforcement, activists, and concerned citizens — facilitated by Bryan Doerries, with the goal of generating powerful dialogue and fostering compassion, understanding, and positive action.”
I managed to find twitter reactions the day after the Sept. 17 performance:
@TheCenterforSE Amazing! #AntigoneinFerguson brought the community together through art and our own human experiences!Carrie Z @velo_city All of tonight’s #AntigoneinFerguson was incredible. Thank you @TheaterofWar @TheCenterforSE. Wow.