Theatre Department’s Modern Take on an Ancient Tragedy

By Victoria Weaver & Alyssa Cabrera

The University of Tampa’s theatre department is conducting a virtual production of the Greek tragedy, “Antigone”, a classic play originally written by Sophocles and recently adapted by Robert Campbell. This particular performance is set to be streamed from Thursday, March 25 at 8 p.m. through Sunday, March 28 at 10 p.m. 

This show aims to take a different perspective on both the technical aspects as well as the story itself. Instead of being streamed live, like past virtual productions, it has been pre-recorded by each individual actor and edited together into one cohesive narrative. 

The show is essentially about a woman, Antigone, who stands up against tyranny and injustice; a theme that director, Gary Luter, a professor of speech and theatre at UT, regards highly, especially in this day and age. 

This Greek tragedy has gone through its fair share of performances throughout time, typically used as a political statement. Luter wants to continue this tradition, with his war-torn, dystopian interpretation, in regards to the current political climate. 

“It was done when Hitler was in power,” said Luter. “Who knew what was on the horizon: tyranny, murder, mayhem, and they turned it into theatre as a warning”

Luter said he wanted to bring attention to the impact current social media platforms have on society by keeping the filming aspect on an “amateur” level rather than being overly polished. The filming itself is new to UT’s theatre department as this is the first pre-recorded film-style production. 

Brooke Patternostro, a sophomore musical theatre major, who plays Eurydice said the filming process was difficult because the actors had to record their scenes completely alone. “You have to pretend, you really have to use your imagination,” she said. 

The move to virtual productions has not been easy for the department. Alex Amyot, UT’s technical production coordinator, has worked on many live shows at the university and has also assisted with the switch to virtual due to the pandemic. 

 “On stage if you screw up a cue or your mic is off you just fix it and carry on,” said Amyot. “But if someone is recording something you only know the mic is off hours later after you thought you were done.”

Though the show is virtual, there are still efforts being made to replicate the feeling of live theatre. In the prologue and epilogue of the production a replica of Falk Theatre is used along with puppets to emulate a live stage production. The diorama is a callback to traditions of Victorian theatre.  

With the diorama, stage manager Kayla Cundiff, a freshman theatre major, will give  a brief introduction to the concept of the show along with the director’s vision of modernism and the impact it will leave on its viewers. 

The modern take, the alternative filming style, and the innovative set design all come together to form a unique experience for audience members. Luter views theatre as a way of expressing emotions that have influenced humanity throughout time in new ways and he said that he wants to leave the audience the knowledge that they can incite change.

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