My first main stage production with theatre KAPOW was in September of 2013 when we mounted our first run of The Burial at Thebes. It is a beautiful contemporary adaptation of the Antigone play by the famous Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. It is an uncommon privilege in the theater world to come back to a script and perform the same roles over several years, however, this was the experience for myself and a handful of other actors. For the past 5 years we have returned to Thebes each September to perform for the freshman class at St. Anselm College to coincide with the these new students’ reading of Antigone. We have also performed on a few other occasions for high school students.
This September will be our last run of the show and our 7th time re-mounting the show. Many actors have performed in various roles over the years and just the other day in rehearsal we were attempting to count up the total number of people who have contributed to the production. For the past 5 years I have marked the coming of fall with not only my return to teaching and my children’s return to school but also with the mid-August email from Matt Cahoon, usually entitled “Return to Thebes” or most recently, “The Very Last Thebes (We think)”. Facebook and Instagram have faithfully popped up pictures of the original show photos and many other rehearsal pictures from over the years.
I have played Ismeme, sister of Antigone, each year as well as a chorus member. Each year I’ve found a new lens to see Ismene through and different ways to analyze her relationship with Antigone and her decision not to follow her sister's plan to go against the “laws of the land” and bury her brother. In her I have found a fierce love of her family, but a true fear that perhaps we’d call her tragic flaw. Fear is certainly an emotion we can all connect with and one that so often decides our decisions in life. Was Ismene wrong to deny her sister her support and to not, as she states, “defy the laws of the land”? This question of who was right, Creon or Antigone, has been an ongoing conversation for the company and one that is always discussed in our talk backs after each show. There have been many different opinions and insights over the years, but as Tom Hanks as Forest Gump says so eloquently when describing what life might mean, “maybe it’s a little of both.”
(photos by Matthew Lomanno)