At its best and most reverent, art poignantly mimics the nuance of life, illuminates its shortcomings, and celebrates the inherent intricacy and variety that yields passion, beauty and violence. Life is a delirious drama; good art is how we make sense of it.
The world is once again on the verge of war, and the Quinnipiac University theater department has chosen “The Antigone Project” for its spring production.
This remodeled version of Sophocles’ classic play “Antigone” masterfully juxtaposes Sophocles’ tragedy of war’s consequences with video excerpts from American combat veterans from the West Haven V.A. hospital.
As societies change and landscapes broaden, man’s ambition and destructiveness remains constant. Conflict is the nature of existence, and war the outcome of that conflict.
“The Antigone Project” is a haunting reminder that violence and bloodshed seem to be the result of an inevitable force of human nature, not isolated political circumstance.
Kreon, portrayed with great resonance and measured emotional ferocity by QU theater standout David Brand, is the despotic ruler of Thebes who forsakes his humanity for a chance at prominence and wealth. His absolute willingness to sacrifice emotion in pursuit of stately glory is a theme echoed and lamented by the living veterans, many of whom were in personal attendance.
Kreon has a maniacal lust for military victory, a lust that catalyses a madness that forces him to ignore his citizens’ cries and brutally punish those who mourn his enemies.
Each time his madness reaches the brink of insanity, he is mocked by an omnipresent voice, singing classic Vietnam era songs of protest and despair, further emphasizing the timeless brutality of war and those who wage it.
Antigone, played passionately by Allison Clark, is the conscious of the fallen Thebes. She is determined to give her brother, a man proclaimed a traitor by Kreon, a proper and honorable burial, despite the sure death sentence she will face by doing so.
She is the voice of humanity that attempts to shout over the crashing noise of weaponry, but the continuous roll of the war machine ultimately defeats her.
So does your voice matter? There have been protests as long as there has been war, but the concept of war has never been eradicated from the human condition. Is war ever justified? Can war be virtuous? These are questions without the possibility of finality or objective truth.
What “The Antigone Project” does, in a wonderfully creative and all-encompassing, universal manner, is force the audience to at least ponder these questions, to decide for themselves rather than become ignorant pawns in imperialistic and self-serving games of morality and mortality.