We had a chance to talk with Alumnus Matt Cahoon and Prof. Peter Josephson (Political Science) of Theatre KAPOW about their performance of Burial at Thebes, Seamus Heaney's adaptation of Sophocles's Antigone, in anticipation of their performance of the play for Conversatio September 8, 9, and 10 at the Dana Center.
Conversatio uses the play to introduce the course theme of the Individual, the Community, and the Divine: Antigone's desire to bury her dead brother in accordance with the demands of the Gods puts her in conflict with her community and its leader, Creon, as well as the individual relationships she has with her sister, Ismene, and fiance, Haemon.
Like all the great Greek tragedies, the Antigone reveals the fundamental problems of the human condition, the problems the classic views of the best conversatio, or way of life, all attempt to respond to. In some ways the play is about the things involved in our the human condition that we cannot bear to see, that subvert our normal social relations: The dead bodies that must be buried; the incestuous past of Antigone's family, the power of love to rupture our social order, the essential vulnerability of biological existence outside of a stable community. The play gives these energies, always hidden but present within our lives, a chance to erupt into consciousness in a symbolic form that elicits the pity and fear for our common humanity that mark the tragic experience.
tKAPOW's production of Burial at Thebes utilizes masks, a setting evoking a post war experience, authentic Greek music, barefoot performances, and, new this year, a puppet as Tiresias's boy all as methods of symbolically evoking the hidden power of these things about our shared condition that we cannot bear to see, allowing them to erupt into our consciousness and making us fix our gaze, for just a moment, on the uncomfortable fact that is our humanity.
Here are some clips from our discussion. You can find the entire interview, as well as a montage from last year's performance by Wax Idiotical Films, at the bottom.