This week, I looked at the main ideas presented in Antigone, and explored the author's intention in writing them. First, I looked at the theme of internal vs. external conflict. While many characters in Antigone face conflict with each other, they also have inner turmoil that greatly impacts their decisions throughout the play and how they interact with other characters. There is also a prevalent theme relating to conflict that has to do with a very large fore vs. a very small one. Like David and Goliath, Antigone and Creon appear to be unevenly matched, but in the end, Antigone is able to hold up against Creon, surpassing the expectations of everyone else in the play. Personally, I like this theme because I feel that it can be related to many other stories today, both fictional and true. It is also important in Antigone because this play was the first to portray an underdog character.
Another theme that I focused on was the theme of isolation vs. connection. I felt that this theme was important because it is a theme that is easy for a wide audience to relate to. Most everyone feels both isolation and connection at some point in their lives, and being able to see characters going through the same thing forms a bond between performer and audience. In Antigone both Creon and Antigone appear to be outcasts at time, cutting themselves off from the rest of their community in order to accomplish their goals. However, they are both important leaders for different reasons, which means that they have social connections that are essential to promoting their cause. This mix of connection and isolation adds to their character and shapes them as people, ultimately contributing to the conflict and driving the story along.
Director's Notebook Paragraphs and Chair Duets 11/5/18
This week, we began to write the material that would be presented in our practice director's notebook. The goal was to complete the first three paragraphs, which would include information relating to the context of when Antigone was written, a synopsis of the play, our impressions and interpretations of the piece, and a justification of why we chose to set Antigone in the place and time period of our choice.
To begin the process of writing my paragraphs, I looked at examples from other IB Theatre students and teachers. It was very helpful to see how an academic tone could be applied to this project and was interesting and enlightening to look at how another person took the same project and used their own ideas to make it unique. I also was able to get a better idea of what the organization of the notebook should look like by examining the table of contents. I decided to use the table of contents as an outline which I would use to shape the rest of my project around. This will ensure that I do not forget any crucial elements while I am compiling my ideas into the notebook, and also lets me have a broad overview of what the main ideas of the final project will look like. I felt that seeing real examples of the quality of work that we are aiming to achieve was helpful. It was much easier to understand the goal of the project when reading it in someone else’s voice instead of just looking at a rubric.
For my first paragraph, which explored the context that the play was written in, I decided to explore the playwright and what life might have been like for him. During the time that Antigone was written, Greece was in a time of peace following several major traumatic wars. I felt that this could have contributed to the style and themes of Antigone, particularly those of violence and betrayal. People who had lived through the war would have witnessed tragedy and suffering in the midst of battle. Families also could have experienced betrayal and turning on each other. This would have given Sophocles good material to work with when he was shaping the experiences of the characters in Antigone. In addition, the peacetime in which the play was written would have given Sophocles time to write and reflect on the violence without being preoccupied with wartime events.
In addition to working on our director's notebooks, we also played chair duets again, this time with a different group of people. Although we had already played this game and knew the rules and what to expect, it was a good experience to work with the same simple premise of an activity with new ideas and perspectives. Instead of two groups of two, my group consisted of three people. We worked together, and while our end result was similar to that of before, we brought in new hand and leg movements that possessed a unique style, different from what my other group had produced. I feel that this was a valuable lesson in seeing how other perspectives can be helpful. In the future, if I am ever stuck in one perspective with nowhere else to go, I will remember to ask others for their opinions to hopefully shed some new light on my ideas.
Continued Director's Notebook Research and Theatre Games 10/21/18
This week, we continued to research the time period that we chose for our practice director's notebooks. In addition to this, we played some theatre games to demonstrate how improv and cooperation could help us expand our theatre knowledge and generate new ideas.
The first game that we played was called "What are you doing?". It involved a group of people (our whole class) standing in a circle. The first person would go into the middle and pantomime an action. The next person would ask them "what are you doing?" and the first person would respond with an action different than the one that they were pantomiming. The second person would then pantomime whatever the first person had said, and this pattern would continue all the way around the circle. This game is helpful because it requires you to quickly improvise actions based on someone else's idea. It is also interesting to see how people interpret the ideas that you give them and to evaluate how you would do it similarly or differently. I liked this game because it included everyone in the class and had a relatively simple concept that allowed the participants to take it in many different directions. I felt that this game allowed me to think outside of the box and be creative with ideas that I had been given. This will be helpful when I am working on my director's notebook because even though I am not able to change the script play I am working with, there are many elements relating to the context that I can creatively interpret and adjust to make my version of Antigone unique.
We also played a game called "chair duets" that involved two people sitting next to each other in chairs. As music played, we would create a series of movements that allowed us to be connected most of the time. Our group included four people, and we chose to occasionally switch partners as part of our movement series in order to experience working with other people. I felt that this exercise was a very helpful teamwork lesson. We all had to know what the other people in the group were doing so that we could make our movements match each other and the music. I feel that this exercise will be helpful in later projects that require teamwork because this game created a new sense of trust and understanding between all of us.
In addition to these theatre games, we also had a discussion regarding works of theatre that had an impact on us and how they could be related to our work on Antigone. The show Come from Away had an impact on me. The people in the town were played by the same actors as the people on the plane and they would just switch costume pieces while still on the stage. At first, I did not realize this and was confused, but it suddenly hit me that they were all switching around to different people right in front of our eyes. I loved how this showed and represented how all humans are interconnected and we all share core values and emotions and are able to connect with people even if we are very different from them or do not know them. I feel that this is a theme that could be applied to Antigone. My teacher suggested having Antigone's actress play the soothsayer (if they are not onstage at the same time.) I will look into what the soothsayer's message is, and if it relates to what Antigone is trying to say, it would be very interesting to have them be portrayed by the same person. I think that this could create some undertones regarding how Antigone's message is at first ignored, then finally gets through to Creon.
(Monday, 10/22/18) Today we played a theatre game called "The Robbery". We divided into pairs, with one person playing the victim of a recent robbery, and the other playing an investigating police officer. The robber began by listing things that were stolen to the police officer. Then , we switched oles and the other person listed the things that had been stolen from them. Next, we switched partners and the first person again became the victim, this time telling how they discovered that each thing was missing. We continued to switch back and forth like this, describing each object in detail (using sight, smell, taste, touch, and feel), and finally, how we felt about the robbery and the objects stolen (this one was to a therapist, not a police officer). I felt that this game provided a good opportunity to interact with he whole class instead of just the people in my grade, which helped me see some new perspectives and personalities that I would not normally get to see. It also was helpful in understanding how to not just list, but really describe and analyze the things that we do in class so that we can write effective journals and reflections about our work.
Practice Director's Notebook Context Research 10/15/18
After reading Antigone with my classmates and doing some individual research into a new context to set the play in, I decided to change the context to Japan during World War II. My teacher suggested finding a true example of siblings who fought on opposite sides of the war to add credibility to my decision. After some searching, I came across the story of the Akune brothers. Originally born to Japanese immigrants in the United States, these four brothers were sent to live with relatives in Japan after the death of their mother. Years later, two of them moved back to the states to start new lives. This transition was soon followed by the outbreak of World War Two. The two brothers still in Japan joined the military, as did the brothers in the United States, each pair fighting for their respective countries. When they were reunited after the war, there was some tension regarding the conflicts of interests created by the conflict. I felt that this story provided evidence that a rivalry between brothers (like the two brothers in Antigone) would have been possible in Japan and the United States during the second world war. It is for this reason that I decided to make one of Antigone's brothers live in Japan, and the other in the United States.
In class, we also watched videos relating to the National Theatre's production of Antigone to explore an example of how to change the context of a play. The production was staged in a bunker during a war and was meant to represent the conflict that was going on in the show in a modern setting. The videos also discussed how the story fit well into many contexts due to the timeless idea of an underdog protagonist. The actress playing Antigone (Jodie Whittaker)talked about how although the idea that females can be strong influences should be a fact that is well-integrated into our daily lives, there are still many circumstances where people need to be reminded of this fact. That is why Antigone is such a powerful story; even though she is a young girl who is underestimated, Antigone stands up for what she believes in and ultimately dies to create change in her world.
Personally, seeing these videos helped me to understand how a play that is very old and uses older language and dialogue can almost seamlessly fit into more modern contexts. I feel that this can help audiences better understand the story and the message that the play write is trying to convey. I can also help them empathize and connect with the characters. Even though the viewer may not have been alive at the same time as the characters or play write, they are able to see how emotions and thoughts can be translated across time and cultures.
Practice Director's Notebook Context Decision 10/7/18
This week, we finished reading Antigone and discussed some of the key elements of the play that would be important to consider for our Director's Notebook. In picking a new context to set the play in there were several things that we considered:
First, Antigone has a religious faith so strong that she would defy the king and face death to bury her brother and make sure that he is able to rest peacefully. This influenced the types of cultures that I investigated when researching various places around the world to set the play. I also looked at what religions had strong beliefs in burial rituals.
The play also has the element of a conflict occurring that leads Antigone's brothers to fight on different sides and results in both of them dead and one labeled as a hero, the other a traitor. In my research, I came across many different types of wars, all fought for different reasons. The idea of setting the play in the context of World War II intrigued me, largely because of the many different countries that I would have to choose from, and also the wide variety of reasons that the different countries had for fighting in the war. My plan was also to tie in Antigone's religious aspects with some of the religious motivations found in World War II.
In my research, I also was looking for a society that had some form of monarchy. In Antigone, an important part of the plot is the fact that King Creon holds power over the rest of the characters because he is a ruler, and there is little that the others can do to rebel against his orders without facing serious repercussions (as Antigone does). I felt that this was an important thing to keep in consideration when I looked at what context to chose because the firm rulings of the king would be hard to portray in a society that was governed by checks and balances.
When I had completed my research, I decided to set Antigone in the context of Japan during World War II. I felt that Shinto and Buddhism, both of which are religions observed in Japan, would give me a starting point for Antigone's religious motivations. Japan also has a monarchy, with the emperor acting as the head of the imperial house. In addition, Japan participated in World War II and had many adversaries, which provides an opportunity for me to show the conflict between the brothers that leads to both of their deaths. While I still have a few details to work out regarding exactly how I will fit Antigone into this context, I am confident that my research has given me a solid place to begin my practice director's notebook.