This semester, The University of Richmond Department of Theatre and Dance performed Antigone, a play within the Oedipus cycle which we touched on in class. Having recently read Oedipus Rex, I already had a better understanding of the nuances of the plot and character dynamics. This helped tremendously, as I could tell many of the other audience members were confused by the motivations of the characters.
Because the show had a very short run in a theater as small as the Cousins Studio Theatre, all of the tickets for the weekend were sold out. Fortunately, I have a few friends who were in the production, and I was allowed to join the audience of Theatre Appreciation students for the cast’s Tuesday night dress rehearsal. Though the performance was superb for a dress rehearsal early in tech week, the audience was a bit lacking.
Frankly, many students take classes similar to Theatre Appreciation in order to fulfill the Visual and Performing Arts general education credit, and they don’t necessarily genuinely appreciate theatre. Most of the students in the audience appeared bored as they wrote down a note or two every so often. As one of the few audience members genuinely interested in the production outside of class, I was disheartened to see so many yawns, including one man who appeared to fall asleep at one point.
Admittedly, ancient Greek plays translated into formal language don’t provide the most lively performances. However, as the play progressed and the actors portrayed their characters’ struggles more and more vehemently, I noticed some audience members begin to lean in and listen more intently. The man who fell asleep finally woke up during Tiresias’ warning to Creon, which was satisfying, considering the friend who had secured me a seat at the early performance played Tiresias. As the play grew more and more dramatic, plot lines were clarified, and motivations revealed, the audience grew more and more interested. At the end of the performance, the students in the audience seemed impressed with the production’s dramatics and the actors’ talent.