Starting on April 26, students can brush up on their ancient Greek fables with the Binghamton University Theatre Department’s Mainstage production of “The Burial at Thebes.”
Written by Irish playwright Seamus Heaney in 2004, the play is an adaptation of the Sophocles play “Antigone” that features modern themes of political unrest and patriotism. Elizabeth Mozer, an associate professor of theatre at BU and director of the play, said although the play is based on a classic Greek story, it portrays problems that citizens under any form of government, especially women, may face.
“This is about a young woman speaking truth to power and standing up for what she believes in at all costs,” Mozer said. “She is courageous and what she does is risky. [It shows] the mistakes of people seizing power and not letting other people give wise counsel and the problems with that. We get to see ourselves in each character and we get to see what it’s like when someone is willing to stand up for what they believe in.”
“The Burial at Thebes” follows Antigone, daughter of the fallen king Oedipus of Thebes. After a war, her brother, Polyneices, is killed and her uncle, Creon, takes over as the new king of Thebes, where he orders that Polyneices will not be buried because he is a traitor. Despite this, Antigone decides to bury her brother. The play shows why Antigone decides to go against the order and the consequences both she and Creon face because of Creon’s law.
Kyanna Lebron, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, will play Antigone in her first Mainstage production. She said the play emphasizes the importance of family and self-confidence.
“Antigone is seen as a tough character, but she has a softness that cares for others,” Lebron said. “This play shows off the family and the passion that [she has] for burying her brother. There’s a message of standing up for what’s right and following your beliefs. Even though there are a lot of tragic events that happen, it just emphasizes the message.”
Creon is played by Connor Brannigan, a freshman double-majoring in theatre and English. He said no character in the show is completely evil, but the decisions they make have dire consequences.
“The hardest part about playing Creon wasn’t the intensity, but the sensitivity and the pain that he goes through,” he said. “Those are hard things to experience and inhabit. The play is very alive and human. It’s a story that’s been told and retold many, many times and there’s a reason for that — it’s because people see themselves in the characters.”
While the play takes place in fifth-century Greece, Mozer said the play also parallels our current political situation by exploring themes like patriotism and faith in leadership.
“Our current government situation has some similarities, especially between Creon and Trump,” Mozer said. “Creon even says ‘fake truths’ in the play, which is similar to how Trump says ‘fake news.’ He has his own idea and because he won’t listen to any one else’s advice, those who are on his side and have his best interests in mind, terrible things happen.”
“The Burial at Thebes” will be opening its doors at 8 p.m. this Friday at the Watters Theater in the Anderson Center. For opening night, student admission will be discounted to $5 — a deal that is only available at the Anderson Center box office. Performances will take place again on April 27 and May 3 at 8 p.m. and on April 28 and May 5 at 2 p.m. Student tickets will be $10.