University Theatre stages modern retelling of Antigone

three people on stage
From left to right: Douglas Killingtree (King Creon), Zayne Clayton (Antigone), Ava Coffman-Luckcuck (Ismene)

The dangers of tyranny and the importance of disobedience. Despite being more than 2,000 years old, the themes of Antigone remain relevant.

“Nowadays, in our political landscape, the idea that someone knows what the state is doing is wrong, and having the courage to fight against it is something I think a lot of people in our generation can relate to,” says Zayne Clayton, a junior majoring in classics who’s portraying Antigone. “I think that's really inspirational for us. Antigone did it back then, so we can all do that right now.”

Directed by Tara Wibrew, the University Theatre’s production of Antigone opens Friday, March 1, and runs through Sunday, March 17. The production is a product of College of Arts and Sciences students’ hands-on learning, applying concepts learned in classrooms to the stage in Robinson Theatre on the Eugene campus.

“It's been a really wonderful experience that these student designers have found ways to both bring their own ideas to the table and get excited by what other people are bringing to the table,” Wibrew said. “It's created a really multifaceted approach to every single design element.”

Written in 441 BCE by Sophocles, Antigone revolves around the conflict between the strong-willed female protagonist, Antigone, and her uncle, King Creon. The play is the final story in the Oedipus Cycle, which tells the story of the rise and fall of Oedipus, king of Thebes. In the play, Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, disobeys the orders of her Creon by attempting to bury her brother Polynices.

two actors on stage

Clayton’s favorite part of bringing the production to life was seeing the work going into costume design.

“I really like the detail and the love that's been put into the costumes for this. Seeing the very small details that most people are gonna miss has been so thrilling,” Clayton says.

The costumes in the production capture today’s political figures. Junior Annika McNair designed the dress worn by Eurydice, the wife of Creon, drawing inspiration from the inauguration dress that former First Lady Melania Trump wore in 2017.

Tickets for Antigone are available through the University Ticket Office. Showtimes are 7:30 pm, except on Sundays, which are 2 pm. Students get free admission by showing up an hour before the play with their student ID. On March 15, there will be an ASL-interpreted performance.

Wibrew enjoyed the fun, collaborative process of putting on a play as timeless and challenging as Antigone.

“There is a lack of ego in that folks are really trying to tell the most honest story as a collective. That amount of humanity in one creative space is a blessing,” Wibrew says. “I couldn't be more happy to walk into the room and get to talk to anybody on this team any day of the week.”

—By Harper Wells, College of Arts and Sciences
—Photos by Nathan Burton