By VASHTI HARRIS
EAST BRUNSWICK — Putting a modern twist on a centuries-old play, the Churchill Junior High School Drama Club will be presenting “Antigone,” a story about the complex situation one woman finds herself in when her personal ethics clash with the governing law.
According to a description provided by the Drama Club, Antigone wants to obey the gods and bury her brother, but Creon has forbidden it. In the year 2050, after another world war, most people have lost faith, but not Antigone. Will she die for what she believes in? What will King Creon do when he finds out his own niece disobeyed his law? Which will win, man-made laws or gods’ laws?
“We’ve done the scene between Antigone and her sister Ismene for years in my theater class. Some very talented young ladies have taken the powerful scene and made it really come to life. It is so hard to find a good script for junior high students. I struggle every summer to come up with a play that has strong women characters and doesn’t talk down to this age group,” said Lynne Elson, theater and film teacher at the school, and the Drama Club director.
“I realized I should do the play ‘Antigone’ because I knew I had the talent to pull it off. I also try to choose plays that are more than just entertainment, but something my students can learn from. I’m hoping this play inspires them to question, to look up away from their phones and take in the world around them and fight for what they believe in.”
Antigone was written by Sophocles around 440 B.C., so Elson decided to set the play in more modern times.
“We wanted [the play] to be set in the future so we weren’t constrained to what has already happened or what is happening right now around us. We tried to think about what would happen if suddenly America was attacked, if there was a struggle for food, for water and no electricity. Maybe I am obsessed with the phone issue, but I really wanted them to imagine what they would do if there was no Internet, no way to communicate but our voices and our actions,” Elson said.
The play will be performed Feb. 23 and 24 at 7 p.m. in the school’s cafetorium, 18 Norton Road, East Brunswick. Tickets are $11 for adults or $9 for students and staff members. Tickets will be sold at the door.
“The acting is phenomenal. These teens worked so hard on the play. They worked as a small independent black box theater company. Actors and a small crew [painted] the set [together], built the props and found/created the costumes. They really worked hard and it has paid off. Also, the story is timeless and powerful. It’s a play that speaks directly to what is going on politically in our country right now, but remember I picked the play way before [President Donald Trump] won,” Elson said.
“It’s not about 2017, but then again maybe America does need to ask itself some strong questions. Theater is an art form of communication. Wouldn’t it be nice if our show sparked dialogue and led to change? I’m a theater teacher — I believe theater can change the world. Maybe audience by audience, or maybe it is the process of creation, working together under a common goal, that changes the world for the better.”
Contact Vashti Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.