Tragic heroine, ‘the voice of our conscience’

In the Cyprus Theater Organization’s production of «Antigone,» the tragic heroine moves around in a three-dimensional space and is flanked not just by the chorus of the citizens of Thebes, but by holograms of people projected onto the transparent wall of the maze. Director Stavros Tsakiris has pulled out the stops and made use of high-technology to realize his vision for the productions at Epidaurus on Friday and Saturday. «Technology helps us dream more broadly,» says the director. «It helps inspiration find a release and allows the poetry of the text to flow. Along with the translation by Minos Volanakis, it helps Heraclitus’ message – that the world of the dead and the world of the living work toward the same end – come across more clearly. The entire performance is based on this idea. The transparent maze, designed by Costas Varotsos, projects a second Chorus, scenes from a parallel world. Tsakiris underlines the participation in the production of video artist Christos Iliadis, known for his hologram of a DNA spiral at the Athens Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Aren’t you a bit concerned about the possibility that the impressive effects may overshadow the play? The play comes first, and it was my greatest concern from the onset. My second concern was the appearance of the performance. I did not want imagery. I am not re-enacting the myth and I am not illustrating it either. What I am doing is making insinuative gestures that allow the audience to form their own images. I think that this method brings us closer to the idea of ancient drama as a culture aimed at creating an internal visualization. Where are you trying to direct the audience’s attention? The performance begins with a narrative by Harita Mandoles, who is pleading to bury her husband. You hear her describing a murder. Harita Mandoles is a woman who has six relatives who have been missing since 1974 [when the Turks invaded Cyprus]… Together with Andriane Mouaimi [another Cypriot woman], she helped me understand why society needs Antigones, these tiresome intruders who cling to the past, who keep pushing. There are always these «irritating» types who stand their ground, who make you want to brush them off. That is Antigone. So, there I was, relating Sophocles’ myth to Mrs Mouaimi, and it made her think of these traditional Cypriot songs, which I have incorporated in snippets into the performance. In this day and age, you can’t direct an ancient drama without taking a political stance. And you can’t find that political stance without looking at when and where the performance will take place. Do you side with Creon or Antigone? It is difficult to disagree with Creon. He loves his country, he is judicious, an exemplary ruler. His efforts to move ahead are thwarted by something insistent, incomprehensible. I do not side with anyone. I’m not saying that he’s right or wrong, nor am I trying to teach a moral lesson. Even Hegel, the greatest scholar of «Antigone,» never took a side. He talks about the right of both sides. You admire Creon for his steadfast principles, but you also stand in awe of the force of Antigone’s self-sacrifice. There are some things that we will never be able to understand. How can you have an opinion about Antigone, or any other woman like her, for that matter? In this play, Antigone represents all those people who stand up for things. They are the voice of our conscience, the people who stand tall and go against the grain.