The themes of Sophocles' "Antigone" are timeless. They're also timely, resonating with issues around a Ferguson police officer shooting and killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown this past August.
St. Louis' Upstream Theater company had "Antigone" in the works long before the shooting and its aftermath. Antigone is a young Grecian woman whose two brothers have killed each other, but the law says only one of them can be buried. Antigone feels she must also bury the second brother. But she’ll have to defy the king to do so.
That conflict puts the need for societal order at odds with Antigone's moral convictions. It's a scenario that's been present throughout history and, more recently, in clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, according to Upstream founder Philip Boehm.
Theater is particularly suited to addressing these topics, Boehm said.
"If we're going back to the Greeks, there is that principle of catharsis, which in tragedy, is a cleansing phenomenon that has an emotional base," Boehm said. "If you went to the protests in Ferguson, there's also a communal event happening and you see people standing next to each other, you see people touching each other. You see people being touched literally and figuratively, and the theater can do that, too."
Upstream has released this promotional video of "Antigone," showing King Creon sifting through an urn of ashes. Creon experiences a significant transformation after the death of Antigone.
The production of the David Slavitt translation of "Antigone" follows Upstream's 2010 presentation of Slavitt's "Oedipus King." Many of the same actors are returning for "Antigone."
'Antigone' presented by Upstream Theater
When: Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 10-26
Where: Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand Ave., 63103
How much: $30; Seniors $25 and students $20
Tickets: Brown Paper Tickets website
Information: Upstream website
Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL