Everything old is new again, whether one is facing a moral dilemma in ancient Greece, in Sophocles’ “Antigone” with the Detroit Mercy Theatre Company, or fearing an alien invasion in Barefoot Production’s adaption of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds.”
BAREFOOT PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS ‘WAR OF THE WORLDS’
Orson Welles’ 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, which caused a UFO panic among its listeners, who feared a Martian invasion was occurring, comes to life on the Barefoot Productions’ stage, with an expanded script by Valerie Haas, the company’s artistic director.
Haas said realistic descriptions and groundbreaking techniques made the initial broadcast seem all the more real, by “interrupting” musical interludes with weather reports and breaking news, and using faux expert and government sources as part of the narrative, which made many listeners believe the Martian invasion was really happening.
“The broadcast became legendary in media history due to people across the country panicking and causing real traffic jams, and flooding the CBS switchboard, as well as local police stations, with nervous calls,” she said.
Barefoot’s version of “War of the Worlds” includes a prologue as the radio show cast and crew prepare for the legendary broadcast, and then reproduce the original broadcast, with side vignettes depicting people who thought the radio show was revealing real events.
Directed by Michael Cuba, the cast includes: Michael Micheletti of Dearborn Heights as Orson Welles; Livonia residents Brooke Bagazinski as Lillian, Larry Damaj as Tom Albertson, a New Jersey farmer, Megan Ellis as Christina and a secretary, and Juliana Rickle as Vivian; Stan Guarnelo of Melvindale as Howard; Tim Majzik of Highland Park as Norman; Annette Ripper of Northville as Irma Albertson, a farmer’s wife; Jason Robbins of Warren as Harry; Jim Sniderman of Commerce Township as Carl Phillips; and Kurtis Wilson of Dearborn Heights as Jed and other radio show voices.
The show runs 8 p.m. Oct. 22, 23, 29 and 30, and 2 p.m. Oct. 24 and 31, at the playhouse, 33735 Five Mile Road, Livonia.
Tickets are $19, with a $2 discount for seniors and students. For tickets or more information, go to justgobarefoot.com.
DETROIT MERCY PRESENTS A CLASH OF JUSTICE AND POWER IN SOPHOCLES’ ‘ANTIGONE’
With a city devastated by war, and a family divided by duty and power, Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, defies her Uncle Creon to bury her brother, Polyneices, and pays for her defiance with her life.
Antigone’s civil disobedience strikes a familiar chord in an era in which the struggles of individuals against the state mirrors current political trends.
Antigone’s opposition was also driven by her moral beliefs, as she wanted her brother’s soul to find peace in the afterlife, and she believed he needed a proper burial to do so.
Adjunct professor and director Sarah Hawkins Rusk of Hazel Park said that although “Antigone” was written around 422 B.C., its themes are timeless.
“I remember seeing this amazing production of ‘Medea’ at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre in London, and ever since then I’ve been intrigued by the way the Greeks use language to depict such visceral emotion,” she said. “When the theatre department was talking about what shows to return to live theatre with, ‘Antigone’ came to mind because it deals with a lot of things the country is dealing with now: civil disobedience, the role of political power, sexism, duty and family.”
Rusk said she thinks that one of roles of theatre and art are to respond to what is happening in the world, which “Antigone” does.
She said she also is drawn to plays with strong female leads.
“My cast knows I love the line, ‘Folly of speech and fury of mind,’” Rusk said. “I just think the imagery and alliteration captures something exciting.”
She said Detroit Mercy’s interpretation of “Antigone” is rooted in the show’s traditional elements while maintaining a modern emotional core.
“We are incorporating a lot of traditional Greek elements into this show, from columns in the set, to utilizing movement within the Greek chorus,” Rusk said. “But instead of performing the text in a traditional way, which can often come across as false to a modern audience, we are making the choice to make these emotions very real, in a way that is associated with modern acting theory. After all, the stakes are life and death for Antigone.”
She said she wants the audience to understand that the show’s themes are relevant today, and she intentionally chose to represent the Greek chorus with both men and women, and with young people as well.
“Often, the chorus is represented as old men, a ‘council of elders,’ but I think it is important for youth of all genders to be heard in the political realm,” she said. “The chorus in ‘Antigone’ is guiding Creon to a more humane choice, but Creon chooses to ignore them and, as a result, suffers because of it.”
Rusk said it is nice to be pursuing live theater again after so much time away.
“It has been extremely hard to do theatre for the last year and a half, because theatre fundamentally relies on everyone being in a room together in a way that other arts do not,” she said. “So, to be together, feeding off each other’s energy, and creating together as an ensemble has personally reignited my passion for the craft.”
The cast of “Antigone” includes Dearborn Heights actor Adam Elzein as Haemon and in the chorus; Detroit residents Frederick Botten as a messenger and guard, Kaelyn Johnson as Antigone, and Jade Sibert as Ismene; Bella Cole of Shelby Township as the chorus leader; Josiah Martelle of Sterling Heights as a guard; Brooklyn McDowell of Farmington in the chorus; Joel Mitchell of Berkley as Creon; Katherine Mutschler of Royal Oak in the chorus; Elise Panneman of Clinton Township as Eurydice and in the chorus; and Olivia Swad of Chesterfield Township as Tiresias and in the chorus.
Local production team members include Dearborn residents Alan Devlin as scenic designer and technical director and Seth Amadei as the lighting designer, and Wyandotte resident Jeremy St. Martin as the sound designer.
Those attending “Antigone” must provide proof of full vaccination for COVID-19, or proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time, or the 6-hour antigen test. All guests must wear masks.
The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22, 23, 29 and 30, and 3:00 p.m. Oct. 24 and 31 at the Marlene Boll Theater of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, 1401 Broadway, Detroit.
Tickets are $25 for general admission, $18 for seniors and $10 for students and veterans. Tickets may be purchased at the box office prior to showtime, by cash, check or Venmo, a Paypal service.
High school groups may receive free tickets by emailing [email protected]
To reserve tickets, go to forms.gle/kYSfFRwvSWBqAKhx7.