So far, the A.N.T.Y.G.O.N.E. method could be described as follows. It works around two themes: theatrical creation processes (improvisation games, stage work, etc.) and exercises related to the body and movements. The participants worked collectively on the myth of Antigone and were able to practice different workshops, while reflecting on how to adapt this new material to their different audiences.
On the third morning of their journey in Palermo, the participants delved into the characters of the Chorus in a specific scene: the waiting time for, but also their reactions during and after, Creon's first speech as king of Thebes (because of the death of Antigone's brothers).
As part of an improvisation exercise, each participant was given the opportunity to step out of the Chorus to play their Creon. In doing so, they created a singular story: 'false Creons' wandered around the city trying to manipulate the citizens and obtain power for themselves.
None of the different Creons who stepped in were deemed credible enough to convince the chorus, which resulted in several scenes of resistance on stage.
This opened up a discussion on the notions of laughter, protest and secret gossiping as political tools, and on the sources of legitimacy of political power. The failure of these Creons to convince the Chorus reversed the dynamic of power by reminding us that the primary justification of political authority is its recognition as such by the people.
1) Feldenkrais warm-up
2) Collective reading and brainstorm of a specific scene
3) Improvisation games on the character of the chorus in relation to Creon’s speech
“Showing power: no times for heroes?”
In the afternoon, the participants further investigated the Chorus in relation to Creon's speech. They shared examples of political speech practices throughout history and in their contemporary societies in Slovakia, France, Serbia and Italy. These anecdotes gave personal inputs and a better understanding to the scene and its stakes.
The participants came to the conclusion that words are the least important part of political discourse because they are often meaningless, which leads people to lose interest. In contrast, political speeches as events are deeply symbolic and convey strong narratives about the type of power in place, notably through body language and staging.
By adding the body movement exercises to the reflection, participants opened a debate: Can body language be as/more informative than words? Where does Antigone fit in as another type of political speaker? Where does the chorus/citizens who revolt or accept their leaders fit in? How can the body translate these positions?
1) Dramaturgical debate: who are the individuals forming the Chorus? What kind of politician could represent the character of Creon?
2) Staging and methodology: How to share Antigone myth to people who have different languages or speaking difficulties? How can we put this myth in perspective with non-western audience?
3) Output from participants background: How individuals from Italia, France, Serbia and Slovakia can adapt the thematic of power and civil society in Antigone myth to their own realities and governments on stage?
"I can work with that"
On the fourth day, noting the breadth of their thinking about the character of the Chorus over the course of the week, the participants decided to use it as a dramaturgical guideline for their next theatre workshop with disadvantaged youth in their country.
The aim was both to co-create an artistic approach that translated their previous reflections on politics and citizenship and to find a format in which to frame the exercises of the A.N.T.Y.G.O.N.E. methodology.
The chorus makes an interesting arrangement for the project as it allows the work carried out on collective acting and gestures to be integrated with the young people rather than individual speech, which can be difficult to learn and deliver in public or in another language.
Furthermore, the chorus in Antigone is a mysterious character because we do not know what they think or which side they are on, unlike in most myths where the chorus has a moral function. This doubt therefore allows a great freedom of interpretation and appropriation of this character and the story by the participants and young people.
1) Feldenkrais warm-up
2) Global rehearsal on the chorus dramaturgy though improvisation games
We are proud of our progress in the A.N.T.Y.G.O.N.E. methodology and the artistic proposals that have emerged from it. We look forward to presenting the conclusion of this adventure in Palermo in our next Train-the-Trainers post.