Lovers & Madmen’s ‘Antigone’ blends the classical with the modern


Photo courtesy of Melanie Ahn

“Antigone” focuses on the ruler of Thebes, Creon and his family, including his niece, the eponymous Antigone.

Mika Ellison, Development and Recruitment Editor

The set of Lovers and Madmen’s “Antigone” was white, designed to look like the walls of a mansion. But those walls had glowing cracks in their foundation, symbolizing the fall of the once-great rulers of Thebes.  

Community members came together to watch the classics-inspired student theatre group’s  adaptation of Sophocles’ Athenian tragedy at Shanley Pavilion on Oct. 14 and 15. The play follows the lives of Thebes’ royal family and centers on Antigone, a young woman determined to bury her late brother’s corpse properly against the wishes of her uncle, Creon. This production was translated from the original Ancient Greek by academic Paul Woodruff. 

Communication sophomore and “Antigone” Producer Hayley Chisholm said the classical amphitheater of ancient Greece inspired the show’s set, which includes a raised stage that extends into the audience in a semicircle. 

During the play, the chorus of four actors often interacted in front of the stage close to the audience. Communication sophomore and Director Juan Barrera Lopez said the chorus represented the common people, which is why its members were often on the same level as the audience. 

“We wanted the bones of this play to be very, very Greek and the dressing of it to feel very modern,” Barrera Lopez said.

The chorus’s costuming evoked ancient Grecian clothing, while the majority of the other characters, who spent most of their time on the raised stage, dressed in modern clothing. 

Weinberg sophomore Callie Stolar, who studies both classics and religion, saw the play on Friday night. She was familiar with the source material and read the play in a Greek tragedies class. 

“I thought they did a really good job of fleshing out all of the very ancient themes and values that were in the play, but (the values) also really ring true to today’s audience,” they said. 

“Antigone” was funded in part by grants from departments at Northwestern, including English and Classics, Chisholm said. Entry was free to ensure there were no financial barriers for the audience.

Despite the specificity of the premise and how far removed the setting might feel from a contemporary college campus, Barrera Lopez said the play is uniquely suited to college students. 

“It’s a play that everyone can understand, that the core of it is about love, but it (also) is about making hard choices,” he said. “That’s the seed that we found that really makes sense for a college setting.”

Although the play involves the larger city of Thebes and stars its ruling family, the set is designed to look like a house, and many of the scenes involve relationships between family members, showcasing social dynamics as well as political ones.  

Chisholm shared Barrera’s sentiment, highlighting the balance in “Antigone” between the personal and the communal.

“For us, ‘Antigone’ is very much about one woman’s desire to do good, but also the entire community coming together to do what they think is the best for the world,” she said. “We’re all trying to do our best and make the world a better place.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @MikaEllison23

Related Stories:

Lovers & Madmen premieres “nostalgic-trip” musical “The Lightning Thief” 

Lovers & Madmen adapt classic stories to the stage 

NU Declassified: No Stage, No Problem