Houssaynatou @ 'Antigone' - there is life beyond 96th street

What's it about?

A classic Greek tragedy with a touch of 21st century. Antigone goes against all odds to do what's right but "the system" is standing in her way.

My experience.

This was the first time I experienced theatre outside. Antigone took place at the Marcus Garvey park in Harlem. I thought there was going to be a stage and then just have the audience sit on the grass. Though I was not down with sitting on the grass, I was open to experiencing seeing a show outside. But, when I arrived it was a amphitheatre outside but without the walls. They was a stage already in place in addition to orchestra seating. I had decided to bring along someone who has not been exposed to anything theatre related. I thought since she lives 10 minutes away from the location, why not invite her? I know that my first encounter with theatre sparked an everlasting love for it, so I thought I'd pay it forward. If I was not exposed to it, I may have never discovered it. Since it was a free show, there was a huge turnout.

The main focus of Antigone is the fact that she risks death to give her brother a proper burial. But, the Classical Theatre of Harlem's version had a little twist that made it their own. Firstly, the cast represented various races in addition to the theme centering around African heritage as opposed to Grecian. Also the touch of 21st century was pretty spot on given the fact that our political climate is in shambles at the moment. For example, the time at which the song Glory by John Legend was sung was a little odd since the play is supposed to take place during B.C. era. Nevertheless the topic of women hit a cord for one audience member. The content of the play sent a message of women being weak and not  worthy to be as important as a men. One lady completely started screaming out slurs such  as "shut-up", "men are nothing", and "you think your better than me". At first I thought she was a part of the cast, but turns out she was just a strong minded individual. She eventually left after hearing enough bashing lines towards women. 

Editor's Note (Christine): 😲...aaand that's why Feminism gets a bad rep.

A few minutes into the show, a familiar face came on stage. It was Ty Jones, the detective from the show Power. Though he plays a good guy in Power, in Antigone he is the bad guy. He is Creon, the king of the land trying to kill Antigone just because she is doing right by her dead brother. Antigone is willing to die, but majority of the townspeople don't believe she should be killed for doing what is right. That is when the 21st century theme begins to creep in where victims of police brutality appears. Names such as Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and more beamed on stage and I felt so proud that they were being represented. 

The main objective of this show seems to be to bring theatre to the black and brown communities. Unfortunately, theatre for many is not affordable nor is it a leisure activity for someone to get up and go see. I question at times if that was done intentionally or unintentionally. The audience at the show represented an array of diversity. That was the essential goal and Ty Jones clearly saw that when he made a small speech at the very end. He said, "there is life beyond 96th Street". That struck a cord with me in where I questioned why is it that the color of your skin has to place so many barriers. 


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