4/18/2014 2:12:43 PM

Anti Gone Today - A Unique Production

Monday, November 19, 2012

By Sarah Vistocco

The countless hours the cast and crew devoted to their craft during the past three months shines through during their engaging performances of "Anti Gone Today." Siena College’s Creative Arts Department and theater club Stage III produced a successful show with a new spin on an ancient classic. Stage III is composed of many seasoned student thespians as well as first time actors. Regardless of experience, all blended perfectly in this adaptation of the Greek play.

"Anti Gone Today" was made possible by the hard working cast, production crew, costume designers and scene shop students. Together, they brought the world of Antigone to life and integrated the audience into the story. The set was designed with the use of light and dark evoking thoughts of the struggle between what is good and what is evil and more importantly, how one chooses which to pursue. The audience was placed in a circle around the stage that filled the center of the small room, giving the actors the ability to address the audience quite personally throughout the play.

Director and producer Professor of Creative Arts Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, MFA, SED realized the relevance of the play and began reworking both the language and structure to connect with today’s audience. “I don’t believe in reconstructing a myth, I believe in recreating it,” Karimi-Hakak said. He integrated tapes of speeches from President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to add current references and dialogue that could be easily understood by audience members.

Karimi-Hakak structured the production much like a college course. Ashley Broady ’13, who portrayed Antigone, said Karimi-Hakak assigned the cast homework during the first few weeks of rehearsal to ensure that each person understood the country’s current political situation. Broady found the process beneficial to her personal growth and her improvement as an actress. “I feel like I made an informed decision when I voted this year,” Broady said. “Now that I know what is out there to find and how to find it, it makes me want to do it for the rest of my life.”

The value of being informed is exactly what Karimi-Hakak wanted to reinforce with his cast and the audience. “The first weeks of rehearsals were mostly spent talking about politics,” Karimi-Hakak said. “Why should we be active? Who is going to help us? Why should we even think that one man is going to change everything?”

Tying politics to the performance gave cast members an opportunity to understand their individual beliefs. It also provided Karimi-Hakak with a unique way to cast the actors for their respective roles. Instead of evaluating each actor by his or her talent level or physical appearance, Karimi-Hakak said he chose to see which actor’s energy would match each particular character. “As such, the actors are basically chosen by the characters,” Karimi-Hakak said.

Jen Cullen ’13 played the challenging role of Antigone’s sister Ismene. Cullen said one of the casts’ goals was to show that, unlike Antigone, many people in America don’t stand against what is blatantly wrong. “Many take the path of Ismene and just sort of go along with the crowd,” Cullen said. She hopes that the severity of one’s decisions, especially regarding politics, translated to the audience as a major theme of the work.

Senior Gabrielle Calabrese ’13 said the show was, “A very insightful adaptation of a timeless work.” Karimi-Hakak said the play also earned acclaim from the BBC through a writer in Los Angeles interested in his approach of “peace-building through the arts,” which is also a course he teaches. For this reason, the play attracted people active in international affairs that wanted to understand how this theory functioned in practice.

Karimi-Hakak said older does not always mean wiser. In his life’s work and with "Anti Gone Today," Karimi-Hakak believes that educated youth have the power to change the world, but, he said, each person has to take the initiative. “The youth do understand. They do have a better opinion about what they want for their future. They do have perhaps a better plan for their planet,” Karimi-Hakak said.

"Anti Gone Today" is Karimi-Hakak’s last collaboration with Stage III this year, but the Creative Arts Department will be presenting two more shows, "Children’s Hour" and "Spike Heels."

Photo Credit: Afshin Katanchi

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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