“Υou’ll become aware that there’s more than one chorus in the house. In addition to the annotative singers onstage, there are the people sitting around you.”
That’s what New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote regarding Antigone in Ferguson’s 2018 run at Harlem Stage. This gets to the heart of what Theater of War Productions aims to do with performances like Antigone in Ferguson: engage communities in a way that goes beyond the typical audience-performer axis. In theater based on classical texts, Theater of War and Artistic Director Bryan Doerries see a way to broach necessary conversations on difficult, controversial, or taboo subjects when traditional discourse falls short.
With exclusive support from SNF, ten weeks of free performances of Antigone in Ferguson kick off at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn on May 8. The run extends until June 13, 2019, encompassing 50 free performances, each of which can accommodate 800 people, giving thousands of people free access to powerful theater.
Created in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in 2014, Antigone in Ferguson intertwines excerpts from Sophocles’ Antigone with music from a rotating chorus of activists, police officers, and others from New York City and the St. Louis area. This ten-week run follows a five-week run of free performances of Antigone in Ferguson at Harlem Stage in 2018. The production was previously staged as part of SNF’s annual Summer Nostos Festival in Athens, Greece in 2017.
Using stories from the realms of Classics and the classics, Theater of War engages communities in discussion of pressing contemporary issues, from elder care, to the refugee crisis, to mental health, to racial injustice.
“Theater of War recognizes that theater can have the greatest impact when it is treated not as a product, but as a process, as an experience, one that meaningfully engages its audience,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos. “Antigone in Ferguson is a perfect example of this, demonstrating the incomparable value of theater in opening conversations among a broad public where traditional dialogue falls short. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is proud to support this critical work.”
Bryan Doerries will be taking part in the 2019 SNF Conference at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens on June 24 and 25.