Victoria Teague on adapting and directing 'Antigone' for the Random Access Theatre / by Declan Maloney Drummond

 

How did you become involved with Random Access?


I've been working with Random Access Theatre for about two years now. I started as the marketing director and have since become more involved artistically with the company, including co-directing a new play reading series called Random Access Workshop Readings (RAWR) and of course adapting and directing Antigone. I was initially intrigued by RAT's mission, to reclaim and re-imagine works of the past as a way to engage in modern issues. Many companies produce classical theatre but few choose to only produce shows that still feel relevant and crucial today. I've loved dreaming up ways to make the old new with Random Access Theatre, we have a blast and I think we have the ability to create theatre that is moving and essential.

 

Why did you choose to adapt Antigone?


Jennifer Sandella, RAT's Artistic Director, is directing Ernst Toller's Hoppla, We're Alive! which is running in rep with Antigone, and that was the first show we picked for the season. Hoppla tells the story of a group of revolutionaries on death row for rebelling against their government who, when they are pardoned minutes before they're supposed to die, all assimilate back into a world and political system they once despised and fought against. It's a haunting show that shook up the theatre scene in Germany when it was originally produced in the 1920s, it was even part of the Nazi book burning. We were looking for a show that explored similar themes to Hoppla which is when I thought of Antigone. The two shows have many parallels, both have bold and brave characters dealing with similar problems and both feel shockingly relevant in the times we're living in today, so I decided to create an adaptation that was modern and served as a companion piece to Hoppla, We're Alive! 

 

What was your writing process like?

In adapting Antigone I essentially kept Sophocles' story and re-wrote it in a contemporary world. Two aspects of Antigone that were particularly inspiring to me as I was writing were the youth of these characters as well as the fact that all of them are flawed human beings just doing what they think is right, full of hubris and passion. The youth of Antigone and Haemon and Ismene was particularly why I wanted to make this a contemporary adaptation because historically those characters are 15 years old. We give them so much credit (and rightfully so in many ways) for making the choices that they make but did they comprehend fully what they were doing? I want our audience to remember when they were 15 and consider making a decision the magnitude of the one Antigone makes, what must that have been like? As for their flaws, I wanted to create three dimensional characters that are not only heroes and not only villains. I'm always much more intrigued by empathy in theatre than condemnation and I had a great time delving into these historic characters and examining the choices they make.

 

How do you find directing something you’ve also written?

 

I'm glad I've had the opportunity to direct a piece that I also adapted in part because I'm inspired to bring this story to life but also because it's such a work in progress! Every day new scenes are being added and things are getting moved around and the speed at which I've been able to institute these changes has been awesome. I'm having an amazing time working with my fantastic cast to develop this production together. We're able to stop, discuss and make changes to each scene as we go and I hope that this makes our production of Antigone feel alive and personal night after night.