Thursday, March 2, 2017

My Challenges

Starting on Our Antigone was a new challenge. There is always something to work on or fix
in every play, and my challenge for this play was and is learning how to communicate clearly the
difference from my modern character, Claire, to my Greek character, Antigone. In this adaption
by Charissa Menefee the script continually changes from modern, where they are kids in a
rehearsal, to the Greek tragedy Antigone. At first I thought this switch wouldn’t be that difficult
because it seemed like a drastic change. But as I continued to work with the script and
rehearsed my blocking I realized that Antigone and Claire aren’t that different from each other.
We’ve talked about body centers and worked with them in our first couple of rehearsals. There
is head, chest, hips, and stomach. Claire has a head center with a secondary chest center. She
is always thinking, observing, and encouraging. She is trying to keep the play moving since their
director left so it can be successful, and this puts responsibility on her. Claire is a nerd and
throughout the play she loves giving information to her fellow actors about Greek drama to help
inspire them because it inspires her. It’s also been interesting to figure out how to distinguish
Claire from myself since I’ve found that I have the same center as well as secondary center.
Antigone leads with her chest and has a secondary head center. We’ve learned a lot about
Greek theater and how they hold themselves. The space around them is concrete and they
never move without a purpose. So when playing Antigone I have to stay grounded and focused
on my objectives. Antigone is constantly thinking about her brother and how she needs to do
what is right. Even if that means going against the king, Creon, and his authority. Expressing
this slight difference from leading mainly from my head to leading from my chest has been
difficult. But I’ve also found that if you take that point of change and not only use it in your body
but also in your mind it helps you to express the difference between your characters. So I can’t
just change how I stand but also how Claire thinks verses how Antigone thinks.

A couple of rehearsals ago, we did parts of the script double time, which means we say our
lines and do our cues twice as fast. I had never done this as an actress and I found that it
helped me more than I thought it would. Vivian has told us over and over that we need to know
our lines backwards and forwards so we can have fun with the play and explore. This exercise
helped me to know where in the script I’m having trouble spots with my lines so I can go back
and work on them.

As we head into tech week the stakes get higher but also there’s the excitement and
adrenaline of performances. I can’t wait to see the final results and I hope everyone can come
see this intriguing play of family, power, friendship, and courage in Our Antigone!

Lauryn Berger
Claire/Antigone and props person

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Finishing the Set

We are nearing the end of our regular rehearsals. It has been so fun and has all gone so fast. We are about to tech week already. We have one more Saturday work day. I have a lot to get done this Saturday still. My crew has been working really hard to get this set done. We have almost all of the platforms made and painted. We still have to do wood graining and make one more pillar and make it look all pretty. We have one more platform and a ramp to make. But the good news is that we can stay late next Saturday to get stuff done. You can see how much we have been doing by this picture.

The set waffles making our pillars!- Anika, Gerrit, and James

We also get pretty messy. We paint, but luckily we have drop cloths.  This styrofoam was all over the place. We got it stuck to our clothes, all over the floor, and everywhere else. The best part of being a part of the process is that as you make the set, you get to see it in action during the week. As we make the set, they use it, which gives us a chance to problem solve. We had to add the ramp because the step down from the top platform was too big of a step. We had some creaky platforms, which we tried to solve as best we could, but it’s not easy to make it silent.

I am so excited to get the set done this Saturday and start tech week. We have been working really hard on this show, and I am really excited for everybody to see it! This has been such a fun experience for me.

-Travis Cooper
Hameon/Eddie/Lead Set Designer

Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Creon - The Antagonist?

I could write a book about Greek theater, Our Antigone, being on Dramaturgy, or Greek culture as a whole, but I’m just gonna let everyone else do that for me. I have the privilege of playing the most intense and sophisticated character I’ve ever been given in all my years at STC and in theater. Creon’s taken a lot of work, but it has been so much fun!

At the beginning of Antigone, Creon makes it clear that no one is to bury Polyneices, because he attempted to take the throne from his brother, Eteocles. When Antigone, the sister of the brothers, buries Polyneices despite Creon’s proclamation, she causes some major controversies in Thebes and her family. There are three major confrontations that warn Creon not to bury Polyneices and punish Antigone. After blinding himself from these warnings, Creon finally pays the price. I won’t spoil it, but by the end, Creon is left completely and utterly helpless.

In every Greek tragedy, the plot is extensively influenced by the flaw of a character who is relatively good. An example being Oedipus; he’s a solid guy who tries to find out who killed his dad to discover that he himself is the murderer. His flaw being his temper. In the end, he cuts out his eyes and runs away. When you look at Antigone, though, it’s harder to see because Antigone is a good person, but she doesn’t have a distinguished flaw and Creon definitely has flaws, but there’s nothing relatively good in him at all! Or is there? If you just read Antigone with no idea of what Creon is like in the rest of the Oedipus Rex series, you’d probably see that. I only started realizing Creon wasn’t all that bad once I looked into him in the other plays of the series. Creon actually believes he’s doing the right thing. He honestly believes that if someone dishonors the gods, they don’t deserve to be honored. This completely changed how I viewed Creon as a character. He was no longer just a bad guy, but an intricate character who constantly battles between doing what is right with the gods and keeping the power for himself.

Once I understood who Creon was and what he wanted, I then had to (and still am doing) dissect my script and separate the points he’s trying to gain power, trying to honor the gods, and when he’s at conflict with the two. Vivian has worked a lot with me on defining which of these Creon is going through moment by moment.

I once played the part of Orlando in As You Like and in the show, Orlando goes through a switch in goals challenging me to naturally transition between his beginning and ending objectives. Creon is similar in that he has two goals, but this time I’m challenged to play through both objectives at the same time. While most characters have one main objective, Creon has two conflicting ones. This is what I think makes Creon such an interesting character.

Josh Gartin

Creon/Brent and a Dramaturg

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Actor's Choice

This week, we have been working on running the show memorized. We have gotten to the end, but we are definitely not done. I learn more and more every time I run my scene. I realize that Haemon is trying to get his dad, Creon, to spare his fiance, but I wondered if Hameon was just trying to save his fiance, or if he really agreed with Antigone. He had just found out and came to argue with his dad. I asked Vivian, and she said it's actors choice.
Actors get choices like this. We think about the circumstances, and sometimes, when we don’t know what the tactic is, we have to make one up, but once we make that choice, we have to stick with it 100%. I had a little trouble with lines the first time I ran my scene memorized, but that was okay because we had Maria and Ben on book for us. Once I got the blocking put with the words, it went pretty easily.
We talk about it a little bit in the script that at a Greek tragedy, the audience is supposed to leave renewed. Like a good cry. It makes feel exhausted, but it's needed. I didn’t think much of that line until we ran my scene, and I argue with my father and have so clear objectives, and I left and I felt that exact thing. I felt so renewed. I love it when all the circumstances are clear and the have obvious objectives.  It makes the acting so; I want to say easy, but I think the word is driven. When the character is driven, you feel that as you are acting it. It just makes you happy as an actor.

Travis Cooper
Hameon/Eddie/Lead Set designer

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Dramaturgy /ˈdraməˌtərjē,ˈdräməˌtərjē/

Our Antigone cast is roughly 1 month into blocking. That means, we’ve made a great deal of progress; the production is beginning to incorporate several aspects envisioned by our set, props and costumes departments. Not only are we accomplishing great amounts during rehearsal times, but during our Saturday morning workshops as well. One of the greatest aspects of teen shows at STC is that cast members design the set, props and costumes for the show all by themselves, the show is built by teens, for teens. However, one production team doesn’t take part in the physical aspects of the production, but rather the intellectual side… and that’s the dramaturgy team.
This is my third teen show being on the dramaturgy team, and each year I’m enthralled by the new things I learn and what we get to research. As the dramaturgs, it’s our job to study “the theory and practice of dramatic composition”. We dedicate ourselves to the analysis of the script, history, and language of the play. This year, we go all the way back to 440 B.C.E. when Sophocles first wrote Antigone. These past few weeks during workshops, our dramaturgy team has read, and interpreted the Oedipus Rex Series or the Theban plays, a trilogy written by Sophocles between 440 B.C.E., and 405 B.C.E. We’ve also read the story of The Seven Against Thebes written by Aeschylus in 467 B.C.E. In order, the plays goes like so: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, The Seven Against Thebes, and Antigone.
Antigone is last in the series, so it’s especially crucial for our cast to have information about their characters from the earlier plays. The best way for them to thoroughly understand their personal character development though, would be for them to read each of the plays. Sometimes, that’s not possible, and that is where the dramaturgy team comes in to help out. We provide a basis of knowledge about key plot points, and and summarize the series for our cast members. We are open to questions, and are happy to research. That right there, is what makes dramaturgy fun for me. We hope to extend our knowledge within the next month of workshops, and be prepared for another presentation soon into the future. Go Dramaturgs!!
“There is a point at which even justice does injury.” ~ Sophocles  
Jayna Wanamaker


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Working With My Character

This week, we have been working more on putting together the lines and blocking of the play. I don’t come in until the second half of the play, and we didn’t get to that scene the other night, so I took that time to further myself. In the past week with no rehearsal, I worked on memorizing, and I am still in the middle of reading Oedipus at Colonus. I also got to look at my character. Vivian taught us about body centers and how everybody has a center. The centers are head, chest, stomach, and hips. I think that my character, Hameon, is a mainly a head center but with a second of a chest center.
We don’t get to see a lot of how Hameon acts. We only get to see how he reacts to Creon’s words. Creon has just sentences his fiancee to death. He is smart by not barging in there mad. You can tell he has thought through his words before he talks to his father, making sure to tell him that he is above all reasonable and that no wife could give Hameon better council that he, then subtle saying that Antigone may deserve honor rather than death. He is very careful as to what he said to his father because he knows his father is a king with a temper. Vivian has also told me that the relationship between father and son was different back then. It is not like the relationships we have today. He is thinking of Creon as the king, and not the father.

It is a lot like the scene between Creon and the Messenger. He knows that he can be killed or put in jail for lies. In a way, I am trying to get Creon to change his mind without upsetting him. If I upset him, he could just kill Antigone, put me in jail, banish me, or maybe even kill me. Creon has been known to lose his temper from time to time.

We ran the scene where Creon finds out about my death. It started a discussion. Should we feel bad for him? His wife and only son just killed themselves, but he had it coming. He sentenced Antigone to death, who is not only his niece, but his son’s fiancee. There are a lot of discussions to be held in these plays.

-Travis Cooper
Haemon/Eddie and Head Set Designer

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Look Behind The Scenes of Our Antigone

And I begin my tenth show at STC… This time, though, I will not be on the stage. In Our Antigone, I have the opportunity to work as assistant stage manager and lighting/sound designer. This has already given me a look into the side of the theater that I have only explored a few times, all of the happenings behind-the-scenes.

In this production, we have a wonderful team that is full of ideas, consisting of: stage manager, Maria Werner Anderson; set designer, Travis Cooper; costume designer, Morgan Reetz; properties master, Allyson Goodman; make-up designer, Sarah Schoppe; and lights/sound designer and ASM, myself. Additionally, all of the actors are participating on one design team (sets, costumes, props, or dramaturgy). Lastly, there are, of course, the adults and ISU students overseeing our process. In this production, we have Vivian M. Cook as our director, Sarah Bennett as our technical director, Lori Sulzberger as our managing director, and Charissa Menefee as the playwright for this original adaptation.

Teen shows are a very unique opportunity for various reasons. Perhaps the most notable is that the production team is made up of teens. The show that the audience experiences depends on the work of the students in every area of the production, since all of the “non-adult” roles mentioned above are being carried out by students. Every Saturday, there is a production meeting, which is followed by a session of work time for each of the design teams. This is the time when all of the ideas that are developed by the designers and further considered in production meeting come to life, as the entire ensemble works together to create the atmosphere of Our Antigone.

Each designer follows a very specific path, meeting many deadlines along the way. Personally, I have been working on lights and sound. This week we did not have rehearsals, as Vivian was at KCACTF, so I was given a wonderful opportunity to put additional time into my design work. After carefully considering each scene, I completed the initial draft of my cue list. This is a document that lists every lighting cue that I plan to include in the show, the action that occurs directly before the lights are changed, and a brief description of the change that occurs when the cue is hit. Here are the first ten cues in the production, to give you a general idea of the work I have been doing:Screenshot 2017-01-27 at 8.02.23 PM.png
So far, I have designed twenty-seven lighting cues for this production. However, I believe that one of the most important skills to apply when working on designs is flexibility. I am confident that many ideas will develop and change throughout this process.

I began the design process by researching the Greek ideal for lighting. I discovered that the shows were performed outdoors, in an open-air setting. This seemed to be an obstacle, as we are obviously not performing outside. However, I learned that they would purposefully perform their shows at certain times and days, so the outdoor lighting would influence the atmosphere of the show in an effective manner. It is upon this idea that I based my lighting concept for Our Antigone.

In each scene, I consider the ideal placement of the Sun in relationship to the mood of the scene. I explore many details of the scene to inform this choice. For example, a private scene may have more dim lights, while a public scene may have brighter light. Or a private scene may have contrasting lights on the key players of the interaction and the chorus. I also look at the emotional intensity of the scene and what ancient Greek associations were between colors and ideas. For example, I found that yellow, blonde, and gold were associated with gods and kings. Therefore, I made an informed choice to put yellow light on Creon during a scene where he is demonstrating power over the public.

Rehearsals are looking fantastic, and I can’t wait to continue to face the many challenges that are coming up during this process. I hope to see you all there!

-Ben Siegel

Lighting/Sound Designer and Assistant Stage Manager