Local voices for Antigone

The cast of Antigone(Not Quite/Quiet). Image by Mark Wessels

Three southern suburbs actors will be playing the chorus “voices of Antigone” in the latest Magnet Theatre production, Antigone(Not Quite/Quiet) which starts at the Baxter this evening.

The play is directed by Professor Mark Fleishman, of Observatory, in collaboration with UCT’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies (CTDPS).

Subtitled Ninganiki Okungcwele Ezinjeni, which is Xhosa for “Give not unto dogs sacred things”, Antigone (Not Quite/Quiet), is not a production of Sophocles’ Antigone but a series of responses to the original play.

“It engages with the concept of the aftermath: the tragedy of our particular aftermath in post-1994 South Africa and the aftermath of tragedy as a form,” says Fleishman.

Jennie Reznek, of Observatory, who plays the character Ismene, says the production is a response to the original story adapted from the Greek play about a young woman who defies the law of the state, who does something she believes strongly in.

This is a three-part play set in post-1994 South Africa, which exposes topics like escaping our colonial history, challenging those in power and the role youth play in having a voice to protest against the state which tries to silence them.

There are 13 young actors who make up the role of Antigone. They are the chorus and voice of her, responding strongly to the state that is trying to shut them up.

Among the 13 are Abigail Mei, 24, from Salt River, Carlo Daniels, 30, from Woodstock and Sizwe Lubengu, 31, from Salt River.

The three are Magnet Theatre graduates and have previously performed together in G7:Okwe-Bokhwe.

Daniels, who is originally from Mitchell’s Plain, says as the chorus they are all part of Antigone.

“As a group, we’ve been strong and connected and we know what the purpose is, we don’t know what the response will be from the audience, though we do know we’re dealing with something important and sensitive,” he says.

The cast has been busy with rehearsals at a time when escalating gender-based violence and femicide have shaken the national psyche.

Mei, who is originally from Malmesbury, says it’s important to be a chorus member as a female to talk out against these tragedies against female violence.

“These murders have hit me hard. They made me sit down and reflect, and during the rehearsals we as a group spoke about how we change what is going on?

“It may not be possible to change the whole community, though we can be the change in ourselves and if we go back to our communities, we can be the positive role models that people can look up to.”

Lubengu, who is originally from Khayelitsha, says it is important for men to get involved and raise their voices against gender-based violence.

“I want to tell this story because it is not only females that suffer; men are affected as well,” he says.

Reznek says the play is an important one to be doing in the country at the moment.

“People will understand and resonate with some of the lines and text the chorus says.”

This play will run until Saturday September 28 at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio. Performances are at 7.30pm with Saturday matinees at 3pm.

Ticket prices range from R100 to R150 and students and pupils pay R50 for matinees and R70 for evening performances. Book through Webtickets.