Antigone Brings Classics to Stage
Brought out the class in the Sayville Players
with their Recent Production of the Poignant Greek Tragedy
In 1981, the Sayville Players attempted their first Greek Tragedy.
“That year,” recalled Director Steve Hailey, “despite the local newspaper coverage that widely advertised the third annual Sayville Players Theatre Lab’s presentation, only 14 people comprised the audience for The Oedipus Trilogy on its Thursday opening night.” Fortunately, the show “went on” to increased audiences for the Friday and Saturday productions. In the fall of 1988, the Players tried again with “an abridged version of Antigone…coupled with Aristophanes' comedy The Birds,” but the popularity of Greek drama or comedy was not a big draw for audiences. Greek theatre remained off the Sayville Stage for nearly 24 years.
This January 6th and 7th in 2012, the Sayville Players Theatre Laboratory and director Steve Hailey decided to present George Spelvin’s modern adaptation of Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy ANTIGONE. To everyone’s delight, the third try was a charm, and audiences were filled—much more than 14 seats—each night.
In this legendary drama, the noble daughter of Oedipus, Antigone, seeks funerary justice for her two brothers Eteocles and Polyneices—twins who had both died in the same battle, but on opposing sides. Although the brothers had agreed to share the throne, Eteocles reneged on his prior commitment with his twin, and so Polyneices risked the citizens of Thebes in his justified attempt to take his rightful place as ruler.
Blinded by anger and by his own sense of justice, their Uncle Creon, the new King of Thebes, orders the proper burial for Eteocles who died defending the city, but decrees that the twin Polyneices should lie unburied on the battlefield as carrion for the scavenger birds and beasts. Creon believes that “anyone who acts against the state, [is] its enemy,” and promises that death awaits the person who buries Polyneices’ corpse.
The musical overture from Felix Mendelssohn's 1844 Cantata "Antigone" opened the Sayville Players production. The darken stage brightened to reveal the serious bickering between the two royal sisters, the passionately enraged Antigone (played with strength and quiet dignity by Anna Mizzi) and the tempered voice of reason Ismene (realistically rendered by Qxiara Tomasetti) as they whispered dark secrets outside the royal palace in Thebes. Antigone declared she would never obey King Creon (Nicolle Ferremi handled this weighty role with confidence) because his harsh decision about Polyneices was in defiance of the gods’ laws.
Neither Creon’s fearful head guard (portrayed sympathetically by Janine Loesch), his own son Haemon (performed persuasively by Kaitlin McNamara), who is engaged to Antigone, nor Teiresias the old blind prophet (Wesley Smith played the sage with the proper balance of wisdom and frustration) could dissuade the self-righteous king from his ill-fated decision, and in the true nature of a classic tragedy, all members of the cursed royal house, including Creon’s own wife Eurydice (performed with mute anguish by Meghan Marshall), suffered ruination.
Throughout the production, spotlights illuminated the traditional Greek Chorus (led by Choragos Katya Sparwasser and embodied by Marissa Klassert, Jake Vail, Victoria Ferremi, Alyssa Lofaro, Emma Prokesch, Jordan Darmento, Meghan Marshall, Gabby Giovan, Janine Loesch, Kaitlin McNamara, Alex Logrippo, and Kimberly Miller) as they rose to speak. Often in unison, occasionally alone, the Chorus provided the background story with running commentary that offered perspective and significance to Creon’s horrific decree.
In contrast to an extremely minimalist setting of the Backstage Theatre—the only prop was a chair—all the actors performed the character-driven drama of this epic tragedy with sophisticated class in grand style. Applause and congratulations go the Sayville Players, Stage crew, and Director Hailey for successfully revisiting Greek Theatre on the Sayville stage.