Antigone Now: The Road Show
I've been doing an "Education and Outreach" tour for the past several weeks, and I don't know which way is up anymore.
The play is Antigone Now by Melissa Cooper, a modernized adaptation of the classic Greek play. It was chosen because Sophocles' Antigone is required reading for high schoolers in the area, and this is a way to hook into that, hopefully making the story more accessible to the students who are studying it.
But let me tell you, it's tough.
In our first week, we did 10 performances in 6 days (made possible by the fact that we're EMC, but not yet Equity). We pack up in two vans (one carries our set, props, costumes, and two actors; the other carries 7 actors and a stage manager), and go wherever we're booked that day. We've performed as many as three times in one day. Our travel time takes up to two hours.
We do our own load-in. We do our own hair and make-up (the actress playing Antigone was trained in how to do her own special effect make-up for the production). We perform. We do a talk-back. We get out of costume. We load-out. We get back in the van, and we go on to the next place.
It's exhausting, even for those of us in the chorus. We're all on stage for the entire show. And in a tragedy of Greek proportions, it's understandable that we're drained. But we suck it up and keep going.
We've had audiences ranging from 6 people to 500 people, ages 6-90. We've performed everywhere from a botanical garden to a furniture store (where our audience sat on couches... no joke), but most of our performances are for high schools.
I believe that theatre can change the world. I know how important it is to bring theatre to schools.
Sometimes we have bright audiences that are completely enthralled. We feel them stay connected to us throughout the show. They give us standing ovations. They ask insightful questions during the talk-backs. They come up to us after the show, clamoring to meet us, asking for advice or autographs. They treat us like rockstars. And it feels positive and amazing.
But sometimes, it's hard.
We've had some of the rudest audiences on this tour that I have ever encountered. There was the kid in the front row who played with a metal Slinky during the entire performance. And that one high school where kids were inexplicably meowing at us. All the gum-popping, cell-phone using, talking-back, whistling, and inappropriate laughter. It's hard to know whether to respond to it or ignore it. So far, we've done a combination.
But the rudest audiences are, of course, not made up entirely of rude students. At those schools, a small conglomerate comes up to the stage after the show. They apologize for the behavior of their peers. They tell us how much they loved the show. They continue asking questions.
It's a great reminder that you can reach people in any situation.
And so, we keep telling our story. We fight to make it as good for each audience as it was for the last.
And then we pack up the van, and prepare ourselves to do it all again.