Thursday, September 8, 2016

Antigone Project—Profile Theatre—SW Portland

A Step Out of Time
This collection of short plays, based on the myth of Antigone and her family, are written by Karen Hartman (Hang Ten), Tanya Barfield (Medallion), Caridad Svich (Antigone Arkhe), Lynn Nottage (A Stone’s Throw) and Chiori Miyagawa (Red Again).  They are all directed by Dawn Monique Williams.  It is playing at the Artistic Rep. space, SW Alder St. & 16th Ave., through September 11th.  For more information, go to their site at www.profiletheatre.org or call 503-242-0080.

Conceive of a world of deceit, greed, corruption, misuse of power, revolution, suppression of women, prejudice and incest.  A world of the past, oh, yes.  A world of today, hell, yes!  Someone once said that if we fail to learn from past mistakes, then we are condemned to repeat them.  And, thus, we have the Antigone Project, marrying these two worlds.

In the first play, the world of surfing, we have Antigone (Andrea White) and her sister, Ismene (Cecily Overman) complaining about the lack of freedom, being of royal blood, but having a moment to admire the freedom and form of a surfer (Seth Rule).  Ismene, being the more conservative of the two sisters, wants to marry and settle down.  Anitgone, “loyal to change,” wants to escape.

In the second play Antoinette (Lauren Modica) is pleading with a General (Chris Murray) to have the body of her brother, who was killed in battle, returned to her so she can bury him.  Also she has proof he fought bravely and wishes to have him bestowed with a medal.  Only one problem, they are black and those kind of favors are not issued to “her kind.”

In the third play we have the age old battle between History and Truth.  It is said that History is written by the Victors.  And so we have a tour guide, an Archivist (Alex Leigh Ramirez), trying to hang onto the “perceived” Past arguing with the spirit of the Historical Past, Antigone (Andrea Whittle), as to what really happened.  The Truth lies somewhere between the two.

In the fourth play we are ensconced in a world of veils and tradition somewhere in the Middle East.  Antigone (Modica, again) has had a child out of wedlock and perhaps will be stoned for her offense.  Her sister, Ismene (White, again), still a conservative, is willing to plead in her behalf, so Antigone tells her of the encounter with her young man (Rule, again).  But in a patriarchal society there is rarely room for sympathy.

In the fifth play, we are in the Underworld, where Antigone (Overman, again) is mated with her love, Harold (Murray, again), as the discover books with histories written as to each soul.  Meanwhile her sister, Irene (White, again), is still in the land of the living and frantically trying to escape from the war-torn country in which she resides.  But, all may not be lost, as they discover, perhaps, the silver lining to the clouds on which they have lived under.

To discover the outcomes of these shows you, of course, will have to see them.  Knowing some of the history of Antigone would be helpful but not necessary, as the connections to the current state of affairs are what are important.  This is a clever idea, connecting past history with current events, conceived by Miyagawa and Sabrina Peck and with the participation of String Theatre and Emily Gregory.  And Williams has done a good job of keeping the settings simple and the casting of her very talented and versatile cast.

The plays all have merit.  I was particularly impressed with the rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue in Medallion, reminiscent of Mamet and Stoppard.  And, also haunting, is the suppressed and oppressed story of women under a male society (one sort of longs for the day of the mythical Amazon society of women, in contrast) in A Stone’s Throw.  And, like Pandora’s Box, the final lines of Red Again bring the promise of something more.

All the cast was very well suited to their roles but Modica, especially, in her two major roles, was very dynamic.  And Rule has a naturalist style to his acting that is refreshing.  These plays only run through the weekend so if you are going to see them, best do it soon.  Parking is also a challenge around the Sports Center when there is a game, so best get their early and park in Artist Rep.’s lot (only $5) for the evening.

I recommend these plays.  If you do choose to see them, please tell them Dennis sent you.