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In Performance

In Performance: Teatro El Publico (Walker Art Center)

Teatro El Público

Antigonón, un contingente épico
Teatro El Publico
Walker Art Center

Teatro El Publico’s deconstructed take on Antigone beings in silence and stillness, with the bare bodies of the performers. This stripped down simplicity is in contrast to the pageantry of costumes and voices that will soon obscure the true shapes of the performers. Antigonón, un contingente épico is a montage of monologues and recitations, mixing the whimsical (stories of visiting monkeys at the zoo named after figures from Greek tragedy) with the quotidian (excerpts from Anna Akhmatova’s gritty Russian poetry). Popular icons and historical figures pop up unexpectedly, but they may require some familiarity with Cuban culture and history to recognize. The words and themes of José Marti, poet and father of Cuban independence, are woven throughout the piece. The performers don elaborate costumes, including drag-inspired cabaret looks, against a background of archival film footage including everything from aerial reconnaissance to an on-the-spot execution.

You would be excused for not finding many direct references to the story of Antigone here. Instead, the company plays with the idea of heroes and monsters, respect for those named pariahs, and wariness of those who rule. “In our lives in Cuba,” says director Carlos Diaz, “it is very normal to have one brother who is a hero and one who is a traitor.” By the time the final sequence arrives, with its rapid-fire questions and incongruous responses, accompanied by fast and frequent costume changes by the company, one has no choice but to prioritize taking in the atmosphere and sensations or reading the supertitles, distant at the top of the set. Better, Diaz suggests, just to let the whole wash over you. The rich textures of the ever-changing costumes and the performer’s almost sculptural use of their voices carry a message of a fragmented, chaotic past constantly changed by its reinterpretation.

Directed by Carlos Diaz
Written by Rogelio Orizondo
Performers: Luis Manuel Álvarez, Robert Espinosa, Daysi Forcades, Clara González, Linnet Hernández.
Set Design: Roberto Ramos
Lighting Design: Oscar Bastanzuri

Antigonon plays at the Walker Art Center though January 7th, and at Under the Radar January 10th-14th.

Photo: Lessy

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Margo Gray is a performance maker and curator based in Minneapolis. Her practice centers around interactive and participatory performance, Current research includes emerging techniques in interactive theatre and performance-adjacent disciplines such as alternate reality gaming (ARGs) and Nordic live-action role-playing. She is currently the Producing Artistic Director of Playable Artworks (a sponsored project of Springboard for the Arts), a Twin Cities-based performance engine. Margo is a former Fulbright Fellow at the Moscow Art Theatre School. She holds a BA in Russian from Grinnell College and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. For more information, visit margogray.com and playableartworks.org.

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