Blesok no. 35, March-April, 2004
Freedom to Women ... Death to Tragedy
“Antigone” by Kemal Kocatürk
Torches and static two-colored picture of the father Creon and his son Haemon in the flame of an eastern philosophical (dervish) melody. At both levels: the circle of the stage and the other one, in the complex of the ancient city. The torch indicated the antiquity and it is the light, together with the further accompanying reflectors.
The two sisters Ismene and Antigone are in the middle, in a circle of white sand bits, with the body of their brother Polyneices. The white dress and the red socks of Ismene, and the black and white combination of Atigone’s dress; a cut more traditional than the one of Ismene; it is a harem-antiquity style, and more with an eastern design. The cuts of the clothes were accidental and the colors clearly depicted the views of these girls on the issue of life/morality/death. This is also present in Creon’s clothes, white with red cape, a long golden peace, which is a classical variant of a costume when it comes to a ruler.
In this “Antigone”, the theatre language of feelings, rhythm, melody, color lived with a minimal ideological and Brecht-like effect. They intertwined in acting dramaturgically brought to the surface, but also in the democratic, modern voice (coming from the TV without a program, an electronic cut) of the director. The sound – as an announcement/stress of what is to follow.
The plot of the tragedy is well known. The burden that Antigone carries before and after the ritual = burial of her brother, because of her duty to gods; sister’s love; her conflict with Ismene, and most of all with Creon, who is in constant conflict with his son Haemon (=love of Antigone and his first cousin), who, on his side is torn between the strong love and unbreakable “democratic”/father’s law. The followers and thinkers of other’s destinies, the chorus and the coryphaeus, have more of a passive, assisting role, which has no influence with Creon, until the moment Tieresias steps out; the chorus is powerful before the powerless, before Antigone.
Besides the fact that this staging had an ideological recourse, it seemed that the female form/play/contents with Antigone was missing, taking into consideration the character she has: carried by her feelings, strong ethics, reaching for a female endeavor that is an eruptive sensitive opposing to the polis; she was smart and mad, strong and weak, proud and lonely in her determinate walking towards death. She showed her repression before the unchangeable state chains. Maybe she needed less verbal waste on the account of a gracious and at the same time strong choreography-corporal occurrence, which would be a connection with her intention and goal. The shiniest charismatic moment, filled with this game, was her lonely appearance in the ruins (of this passing world), where she showed her toughness and determination with her body, when her (playful) hands grabbed the soil, the dust around her, playing a ritual with her body and with the soil/dust, ready to find herself on the other side, to return to Mother Earth.
However, Antigone still expressed her mockery and rejection of the views of Ismene, her indetermination, softness. Ismene is more a character, which is a static occurrence. She is more of a lost citizen, and at no moment did she try to act with Antigone in a determinant way. The director placed this character in a interesting way in positions where Ismene had the face of the second I of Antigone. Thus, at one moment, Creon seemed to be torn between the nature and character of Antigone and Ismene, Filiz Ahmet played his auto-citation of the play “The Little One”: her hands on her ears – her lost, not being able to hear, to accept the other side of the truth.
Eteocles visibly showed his battle with his father. A dosage of aggression and power poured from him, even power in his views. His (dervish) trance, combined with small electrical sounds, played until it hurt, hitting himself and repeating his decision. It was symbolic and obvious expression of a ritual dance, where he hit himself with blood/red, he purified himself with blood, he forgave himself with blood and with a bloody dance, and he became a traveler to find his nostalgia.
A strong appearance in the concept of the director was the acting of Atila Kninçe. Although he acted classical dramaturgic roles of a guard and messenger, his acting showed his resistance to laws all the time, that is, his anger, the desire for change. The two announcements of the ritual on the diseased were so obvious (that they only seemed spying, because of his task), while he was himself involved in the ritual, throwing sand on the body, in front of Creon! A harmonious intertwining of humiliation and democracy, that can also sound like: listen, I am telling you this, but I do not agree with what you want to do, and here, I do the opposite.
A variant of an announcer was the recorded voice – a chorus of a song, an advertisement, simulated when the two TV sets on the stage were on, and there was no program. The director went even further with this inter-medium: to distort the already seen, trendy, theatrical novelties, put in an ancient play. The best actor with his determination, posture, royal appearance, broken vanity, tyranny, uncompromising attitude, hamarthya and tragedy, was Mustafa Jaşar.
The tragedy in this staging, with a clear sound, said it was dead. Therefore, the tragedy itself, the characters and all internal threads are long gone; so, if we do something now, it is the revival of the good old pieces, showing the novelties in our own conscious way.
The character of the wise Tieresias cannot be mentioned without saying that he copied the ritual in a dervish manner. All of his bows to the ground told the horrible truth that was to happen. At moment maybe the anger and aggression in his convincing of Creon were overdone, because he is the all-knowing anyway: a top wise man.
There were two graves in the play: one at the circular stage, and the other was a grave (of some ancient citizen of ours) from the city of Stobi itself, which added mysticism both in the esthetics and in their many meanings.
Our Turkish drama actors, both with “Antigone” and “The House at the Border” before that, together with the director, undoubtedly showed us fresh and strong esthetic pieces.
Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska