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Thursday December 2nd

Performance offers feminist take on ancient narrative

<p>Antigonick will be performed at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio on Jan. 24-26 at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Photo courtesy of Maria Baranova.</p>
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Antigonick will be performed at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio on Jan. 24-26 at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Photo courtesy of Maria Baranova.

In its upcoming portrayal of Anne Carson’s Antigonick, Big Dance Theater will bring to life a one-act retelling of an ancient feminist narrative. 

The performances, hosted by Carolina Performing Arts, will be at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 24-26 at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio. General admission costs $27, and student tickets cost $10. 

Antigonick is a modern translation of Sophocles’ Antigone, which tells the story of a young woman who defies the orders of her uncle, the king, in order to bury her brother, who died in a battle for the throne. 

Annie-B Parson, artistic director of Big Dance Theater, said that Antigone is one of the earliest examples of feminism in theater.

“Antigone is a radical political figure who stood up and spoke truth to power,” Parson said. “The protagonist is probably the first female resistor.” 

Big Dance Theater’s adaptation of Anne Carson’s translation is 30 minutes long, as opposed to longer productions of the work, which Parson said makes the story more succinct.

“It’s steeped in metaphor and imagery, but not in any way that is hard to understand or makes you feel like it’s flowery,” Parson said. 

In between the two performances each night, audience members from both shows are invited to a ‘Dionysian Libation,’ a small party with complimentary food and drinks. Sara Pereira da Silva, executive director of Big Dance Theater and producer of Antigonick, said the party is an opportunity for the audience to get a closer look at the set and learn some of the details of the show.

“It makes people engage with the piece in a different way rather than come in, watch the show on stage and get out,” Pereira da Silva said. 

Members of the production team will also be at the party, allowing audience members to ask questions and discuss the performance.

Big Dance Theater first workshopped Antigonick in 2016. They then performed the show at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts in 2017 and at Abrons Art Center in New York the following year. 

One of the ways in which Big Dance Theater aims to highlight the show's feminist themes is through an all-female cast. One of these cast members is Jody McAuliffe, a professor of the practice of theater studies at Duke University. She plays the role of Eurydike, the wife of the king whom Antigone defies.

This is McAuliffe’s first time working with Big Dance Theater. She said that Anne Carson’s writing stands out among the many translations of Antigone. 

“It’s a mix of contemporary language and allusions,” McAuliffe said. “It’s very much her own take on the text.” 

Parson said Carson’s Antigonick has a strong philosophical theme, with the protagonist portrayed almost as a student of philosophy. At the heart of the show, however, is a feminist struggle that continues to be relevant more than two thousand years after the original story was written.

“It’s so old, and when you hear it, you kind of can’t believe the depth of the argument and how long we’ve been struggling with this,” Parson said.


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