Friday, October 14, 2011

You must see this play: The Burial at Thebes

Last week, I was lucky enough to receive two free "blogger" tickets to the play The Burial at Thebes at the Guthrie Theater. As I wrote about here, I joined a blogger group run by the Guthrie and this was the second set of tickets they have given me.

Before we went to the show, I was able to take some time to explore the Guthrie website and read the background information on the play itself and on the details of how the Guthrie was performing it. The play is based on the ancient Greek tragedy Antigone by Sophocles. It tells the story of Antigone, one of the daughters of Oedipus, and how she went against the government (in this case, Creon, the father of her fiance) to give her brother Polyneices an honorable burial. She is punished for her transgression, setting off a series of devestating consequences for Creon. The playwright, Seamus Heaney, (who later won the Nobel Prize for Literature) wrote the play in the 1990's, and the modern language makes it very easy to follow.

Stephen Yoakam (Creon) and Ernest Bentley (Haemon) with Joseph Turner (Soldier) and T. Mychael Rambo (Chorus) in the Guthrie Theater's production of THE BURIAL AT THEBES, by Seamus Heaney, based upon Sophocles' Antigone. Directed by Marcela Lorca, composer J.D. Steele, set design by Monica Frawley, costume design by Elizabeth Caitlin Ward and lighting design by Christopher Akerlind. September 24 - November 6, 2011 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Michael Brosilow

There are several factors that make this production can't miss: the first being the music that is interspersed throughout the show. Many Greek tragedies have a "chorus," and this show is no different. What is different is the quality of the music, an original score by composer J.D. Steele, and of the performers. The music and the chorus members are woven into the stories and add to the mood of each scene. Their five-part harmonies and movement add much to the dialogue. The second factor is the strong performance of the acting company, especially Stephen Yoakam as Creon. The pivitol scene near the end of the play, pictured above, was one of the most heart-wrenching moments in theatre that I have seen. I was literally holding back sobs as he unleashed a gluttural scream at the climax of the play. Fittingly, I felt catharsis as the lights went up.

How can you tell that this thrifty blogger enjoyed the play? I'm going to see it again, and will pay for my ticket this time!

** Disclaimer- I was given two free tickets to the show by the Guthrie Theater's communications department. I was welcome to blog about my experience but did not have to.

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