The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

Antigone: A modern take on a 2,000 year old tragedy

The WHS Theatre Department is beginning its production process for this year’s fall play, Antigone, which is expected to hit the stage in mid November. The department is excited to showcase their modern take on this classic Greek tragedy.

Antigone features a female protagonist, as well as a female-heavy cast. In Ancient Greece, this may have been frowned upon. However, WHS is using a modern version of the play, written by Hollie McNish, that focuses on themes such as climate change, feminism and breaking apart from the status quo.

Daniel Devlin, WHS’ drama teacher and director of the production, said he stumbled upon this modern adaptation over the summer while looking for plays to stage this year. “[The play] is 2,500 years old and it’s like, wow, they talk specifically about taking care of the planet and also the role of women in society,” Devlin said.

The story follows Antigone, the daughter of the king, who confronts the standards of her society. Senior Cara Cogan, who has been cast as Antigone, said, “It‘s really about one person going against an oppressive government or against the system in pursuit of doing what is right.”

Along with modern themes comes modern language and some controversy. Devlin mentioned that he had to cut all profanity, including “all 18 ‘f’ words” in the script. During the first read-through, some of the cast members were uncomfortable and worried about some of the scenes. “I don’t want students doing anything that makes them uncomfortable,” Devlin said. “And, I don’t want the audience to be super uncomfortable. You know, how far is too far?”

Another challenge facing the production is the fact that the WHS Theatre Department is spread thin this year. With many actors graduating in 2023, especially male performers, Cogan knew this year would be tough and she would have to step up in a big way. She said, “There were 22 seniors that graduated. Yes, our numbers are low. But [last year’s seniors] set an amazing example and I feel I am trying my best to fill their shoes.”

Given the issue of numbers, Devlin had to choose his play carefully. Deliberating between choosing one that would have an inexperienced cast or limiting the size, he chose the best fit for this department.

“We are without a lot of people in the department right now,” Devlin said. “I always pick a show that I know we can do, and Antigone works.”

This play is ensemble-heavy, which made this show especially appealing for Devlin. “We don‘t have very many guys. If I had to, I could cast the majority or almost all the show with girls. Luckily, I didn’t have to,” he said. The ensemble enters in the beginning of the show and does not leave, giving them more stage time than Antigone herself.

The cast and crew are looking forward to this production. Devlin said, “I think [the show] already resonates with [the cast]. Listening to so many of the themes is like listening to the young people and recognizing that it’s [their] future that we are dealing with.”

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