Antigone Dead People

a play written by Evan Webber and directed by Jacob Zimmer.

Everyone is dead. They are dead people doing a play, and this condition is such that they never leave the stage. It’s an Antigone performed by ghosts. The ghosts of the characters of Antigone. Ghosts who, after two thousand years of enacting their stories over and over – stories of rebellion and death, of “the strangers at the gates”, of generational conflict and civil wars – these ghosts begin to wonder what would happen if they could tell a different story.

Evan Webber has written an Antigone for our times.

It's an Antigone that hinges on reasonable accommodation and terrorism. That asks real – difficult, tragic – questions about our capacity to deal with migration and difference. A contemporary mythic Antigone that is as ambiguous, complex and painful as politics, family and death actually are.

Characters who think they are “alive” — everyone except Polynixes at the beginning — are all pre-recorded text in English from the original Toronto cast.

What they say is played as voice-over.

They are trapped in a story, sometimes caught up, sometimes resisting, always emotionally engaged. As they become more aware of their situation, that is, when they “die”, the actors playing them begin to speak out loud. Speaking what they speak at home.

In a world of mediatized politics, constant surveillance and uncertain realities, the production uses the embedded technologies we all live with – a layering of recorded and live voice, amplified sound, music and live feed video. Using a subtle and cinematic physicality where small gestures become huge, Antigone Dead People creates an rare and powerful space for understanding tragedy and maybe evening moving on.

Prototyped by Small Wooden Shoe in 2012 and presented in an international collaboration with Osaka-based company dracom at Sound Live Tokyo in December 2014.

The dracom and Small Wooden Shoe production is a remarkable collaboration between Jacob Zimmer of Small Wooden Shoe, Jun Tsutsui of dracom and collaborators Christopher Willes (Sound and Music), Trevor Schwellnus (Video and Scenography), Sherri Hay (Masks) and Vanessa Fischer (Costume) and striking cast from Osaka and Toronto.

"[Small Wooden Shoe] creates a Japanese version of the play in an one-week collaboration period with dracom, the Osaka-based performance group led by Jun Tsutsui that have long been working with the experimental employment of pre-recorded speech. A world premiere. Performed in English/Japanese and surtitled in Japanese/English. Consider the play’s hard subject in a soft ballroom environment, just like in Brecht’s “smoker’s theatre” — though of course smoking in the seating area isn’t permitted!" – Sound Live Tokyo curator Tomoyuki Arai

Small Wooden Shoe + dracom credits

Venue: SuperDeluxe | Written by: Evan Webber | Directed by: Jacob Zimmer with Frank Cox-O'Connell | Co-director: Jun Tsutsui | Performers: Banri Kitano (dead Antigone), Hiroki Yuki Murayama (dead Creon), Frank Cox-O’Connell (dead Polynixes), Yo Yoshida (dead Haemon), Natsumi Kamada (dead Ismene), Hiroyuki Kosaka (dead guard), Evan Webber (dead professional mourner), Keiko Yamaguchi (dead professional mourner) | Voices: Maev Beaty, Philip Shepherd, Liz Peterson, Frank Cox-O'Connell, Sean Dixon, Sky Gilbert, Lindsey Clark, Antonio Cayonne | Sound: Christopher Willes | Design: Trevor Schwellnus | Management: Ame Henderson, Sachiko Uchiyama | Stage manager: So Ozaki | Translation: Manami Hara, Tomoyuki Arai | Surtitles: Tomoyuki Arai | Project made possible by The Canada Council for the Arts | Kyoto Art Center Artists in Studios program

Original Toronto / Voice cast: 
Maev Beaty as Antigone | Philip Shepherd as Creon | Liz Peterson as Ismene | Frank Cox-O'Connell as Haemon
Sean Dixon as Polynixes | Antonio Cayonne as the Guard | Sky Gilbert & Lindsey Clark as the Professional Mourners

Directed by Jacob Zimmer with Leora Morris 

Christopher Willes is did the sound, Matt Smith helped with recording. Lights and video designed by Trevor Schwellnus and Vanessa Fischer designed the costumes. 

Tokyo photographs by Hideto Maezawa - Full Gallery

Toronto photographs by Mark Loeser and Erika Jacobs. 
Full Gallery

Small Wooden Shoe gratefully acknowledges the support of the
Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council

Earlier development with Crows' Theatre and Soulpepper
with the support of the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council.