A 2,500-year-old play about rebellion, revolution and the role of government in private life has fresh relevance in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, and an online staged reading is set for today.
Relative Theatrics is scheduled to present a reading of “Antigone Project: A Play in Five Parts” at 7 p.m. tonight on YouTube. The live reading had been scheduled for March 12 at the University of Wyoming Art Museum as part of Relative Theatrics’ “Read, Rant, Relate” series.
The play’s five actors will perform the work as a group chat through the website Zoom. Their chat will be live-streamed to audience members on YouTube Live. Following the reading, audience members can participate in a chat using YouTube’s chat functions. A link is available at www.facebook.com/RelativeTheatrics, and the reading is free.
“The actors will be calling in to a Zoom meeting that will be aired on YouTube,” said Relative Theatrics founder Anne Mason.
The reading had been intended to be presented alongside artwork on display in the museum’s Pat Guthrie Teaching Gallery, which had been selected to complement a class on classic Greek civilization taught by UW instructor Laura DeLozier. Now, a slide show of work in the gallery will run from 6:30-7 p.m. Friday at the same link.
“Antigone Project” is a play in five parts written by Tanya Barfield, Karen Hartman, Chirori Miyagawa, Lynn Nottage and Caridad Svich. The subject of “Antigone Project” is the tragic play “Antigone,” written by Greek playwright Sophocles about 440 BCE. In the ancient story, Antigone defies a new ruler by burying a brother who died in battle instead of leaving his body shamefully unburied on the battlefield.
Mason said the modern rendition considers the ideas of rebellion against authority, how much power we give to governments to monitor or censor our behavior and what role the government should play in regulating our private lives.
In light of the events of the last several weeks, when those in all levels of government have both suggested and mandated certain types of behavior, the questions have taken on new urgency.
“It’s a completely different conversation, and it changed on the turn of a dime,” Mason said.
Indeed, the play reads differently compared to just a few weeks ago, when the original reading was scheduled. The necessity of presenting the reading online is itself a response to governmental orders banning public gatherings.
“It’s so crazy to think of how this play has changed in the minds and bodies of our actors just over the last two weeks,” Mason said. “I think that is a real testament to the universality of ancient Greek stories.”
Two of the original cast members were unable to participate in the rescheduled event because of limitations of the new delivery method. However, one the replacement actors currently lives in Los Angeles.
“There are pros and cons to moving forward in this virtual format,” Mason said.
Mason said the arts are especially important during times of stress or uncertainty because they foster hope, empathy and resilience.
“What theater allows us to do is come together in some means to witness stories of characters in times of conflict and see those characters overcome those challenge and come out the other side,” she said. “It allows us to collectively work through our struggles through the story of somebody else — through the story of another individual facing a crisis and conquering it. That provides a hope that we so desperately need.”
To complete the evening, Relative Theatrics has partnered with Chalk N’ Cheese, 209 S. Second St., which is offering a wine and cheese pairing chosen specifically to enjoy with the play.