CREON by Ned Dickens, directed by Vikki Anderson, with Sarah Evans, Dmitry Chepovetsky, Victoria Adilman, Jeffrey R. Smith, Melee Hutton, Adrian Proszowski, Emily Andrews and Meegwun Fairbrother. Presented by Stone Circle Project and Theatreworks at Jackman Public School (79 Jackman). Opens Friday (August 10) and runs to Sunday (August 12) 7 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2 pm. Pwyc. theatreworksproductions.com Rating: NNNNN
Sarah Evans believes that a person can only eat so much souvlaki.
So she's hoping that people who are out at this weekend's Taste of theDanforth, sampling food and being serenaded by various bands, willalso check out some theatre: the first production by Stone CircleProject, Ned Dickens' Creon.
Co-presented by Theatreworks in an outdoor schoolyard just north ofthe Danforth, the piece is Dickens' take on the story of Antigone, oneof the children of Oedipus. When her brothers fight and kill eachother, the new ruler Creon, uncle to all these kids, decrees thatone of the brothers can be buried and the other not.
Antigone disobeys him and is found guilty by Creon. Many deaths ensue.
After all, it's Greek tragedy, and a story best known in the Sophoclesversion, Antigone.
Dickens offers an unusual spin on the story. His play Creon, part ofthe seven-work cycle City Of Wine, about the metropolis of Thebes, isset in a tavern years after the events of the play. A stranger arrivesin the midst of some oddly named characters (Bowl, Glass, Water andothers) prompts the citizens to retell the story, casting the strangeras Creon.
"We had initially chosen another adaptation of Sophocles, but directorVikki Anderson brought in this play-within-a-play version, which leaptoff the page when we read it out loud," recalls Evans.
"Ned's script is both audience friendly and accessible as an outdoorproduction. In it, he explores not only the mythic characters but alsothe average citizens, the unnamed people in history, who lived throughthe events of the classic stories."
Anderson's setting it in a frontier town, there might even be a touchof Deadwood, whose citizens go through a cathartic experience inreliving the story of Antigone.
But the play is called Creon, which suggests the playwright's focus.
"The play regularly asks the stranger, and by implication theaudience, what Creon would do in this difficult situation," saysEvans, who plays both Antigone and Bowl.
"He's not a tyrannical dictator but a man who must choose betweenalternatives. At times it seems the gods don't listen to our requestsfor help; we have to make decisions on our own."
What about the traditional Greek chorus?
"In a way, the characters in the tavern are the chorus, whose membersstep out and become individual characters in the story. In rehearsalwe often have to fine-tune who we are at any given moment, clarifywhen we fall in and out of a role.
"It becomes a bit more complicated because all the figures onstage aregetting progressively drunker, so they lose their inhibitions and tapmore deeply into their subconscious minds."
Though not connected with Taste of the Danforth, the 75-minuteensemble production, with live music by John Gzowski, fits neatly intothe celebration of Greek culture that's at the centre of the festival.
"It's also a chance to celebrate theatre's Greek roots," offers Evans."We especially like the fact that we're offering Greek drama streamedthrough a Canadian sensibility.
"And we know, too, that our audiences will likely not be regulartheatregoers. This production is a way to engage people in theatre andkeep it alive."