The recently reborn Theatre Ventoux joins forces with the new Live Theatre Company to produce Jean Anouilh’s searing “Antigone,” a retelling of the classic Greek play by Sophocles.
The show, which opens Friday, April 24, will play for three weekends at the Severance Theatre.
Here’s a rundown:
The play: When King Creon declares that Polyneices, who died fighting for the throne, will be denied burial rites, Antigone protests, saying she should be able to bury her brother. Knowing she will face death if she disobeys, she justifies in moral terms what she does as she struggles against authoritarianism.
Never miss a local story.
The play’s history: Anouilh’s “Antigone” was first performed in Paris during the Nazi occupation but was quickly seen as a commentary on fascism. Even though Anouilh was reluctant to assign such a clear-cut political meaning, the play continued in coming years to take on more of that anti-fascist tone.
The director: Lisa Taber of Theatre Ventoux played Antigone in a 1989 Fresno City College production, and she says in the play’s program notes that the story of a young woman’s lone rebellion against the state gave her a powerful opportunity to define her personal boundaries: “What, if anything, did I believe in so passionately that I was willing to die for it?” Taber asked herself. “Which comes first: family or duty? What happens when love doesn’t conquer all? Twenty-five years later, I have much different answers to those questions.”
New focus: In this production, Taber presents two intelligent, headstrong and willful people, neither of whom is right or wrong, both of whom believe wholeheartedly in their actions. “There is no clear-cut hero or villain, only two people doing what he or she believes is best. We invite you to choose.”
The cast: Kayla M. Weber is Antigone, Greg Taber is Creon, Broderic Beard is Haemon, and Joshua Taber portrays the Chorus.
The new company: Live Theatre Company is headed by executive director Thornton Davidson, a prominent name on the local theater scene. (He’s been president of Woodward Shakespeare Festival for 10 years and has produced such shows as “Hello Out There/Stirring Stu” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” for Artists’ Repertory Theatre.)
The philosophy: “I’d like to see Live Theatre Company do something different,” Davidson says. “Theater should cause us to tear down or affirm the idols we erect for ourselves. And because it’s theater, that experience should entertain. Also, without straining to do so, I’d like to produce plays that grapple with issues relevant to people who value relevant issues.”
The price structure: Davidson is kicking off the company’s first season with a BYOT (bring-your-own-ticket) structure that will suggest but not require specific ticket prices.