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Arts Beat: A Greek Tragedy

By posted Oct 05, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Music isn’t the only thing this city has to offer. With this new WVUM feature, we bring you a look into the rest of the arts world in and around Miami. First up: UM's Studio Series presents Antigone.

By: Cristian Andres Benavides

No, ladies and gentlemen, theatre is not dead. And it gets even better: it’s in your own backyard.

The University of Miami’s theatre department presented its first show of the year at the Studio Theatre located in Room 204 of Hecht Residential College. Sophocles' Antigone had its opening night on Thursday, September 30, and it ran through Sunday, October 3.

The play, which deals with the struggle of Antigone and her fight to bury her brother against the king’s will, is much better to see than to re-tell. The UM production was an adaptation of the original Greek tragedy by student director Alexander Gonzales. Don’t let the words “Greek” and “tragedy” scare you; it’s only about 45 minutes long.

The small studio in the corner of the second floor of Hecht Residential College was filled with theatre enthusiasts on opening night. Aside from the great treats that they fed you before entering the studio to see the show, Gonzales was there welcoming you into the humble studio where the actors, technical crew, and he himself spent the past four weeks of their lives. With rehearsals held Monday through Saturday and some Sundays, there was little time for anybody in the crew to really have a life outside this project. 

But the hard work paid off. The emotional commitment from all actors was felt, but Samantha Sutliff took not only the cake, but the whole damn factory. Every moment that Sutliff took the stage, it seemed all eyes were on her. Though her sharp movements on stage seemed a bit overdone, it was within the stylized vision that the director was aiming for. This is not to underestimate the rest of the cast. Daniel Menendez also took on quite a challenging role. From time to time it seemed he needed a push, but he always came out with a surprise.

Overall, aside from some unprovoked blocking and harsh movements, the play was a complete success. Bravo for making the show only 45 minutes and still keeping every important moment needed.

About the Director: Alex Gonzales

Some may wonder how he does it all: school, work and theatre. The 22-year-old former Gator is a Miami native with big dreams and a pretty hefty planner. Gonzales has been involved in theatre since the 7th grade at local Palm Springs Middle School, and he acted all through his high school years at Hialeah High School. Once graduating, he knew theatre was the path for him, so he chose theatre as his major at the University of Florida before making the wise decision to transfer to the University of Miami and continue with the same major. Though a lot of his background is concentrated in acting, Gonzales considers himself not just an actor but also a writer, dancer, and most obviously, a director. He is currently a senior ready to graduate with his B.A. in theatre and a minor in dance.

In a recent interview with Alex, I asked him why he picked Antigone, a show that to some might seem so complex and difficult to understand. He said that what attracted him most about the show was its complexity, though it was definitely a challenge for the young director. Gonzales says his favorite part about directing is the storytelling and finding a concept for every scene, something he had to do a lot with a play like Antigone; for example, he cut the chorus, which is a major part of Greek tragedies. When asked if the show was ready, he replied, “There is no such thing as a perfect show….there is always a moment that could have been worked more [during rehearsal].” But when confronted with the million-dollar question—if he was satisfied with the work the actors presented—he said, “Totally.”

Cast and Production Team

Antigone: Samantha Sutliff

Ismene: Marnee Carpenter

Haemon: Daniel Menendez

Creon: Mike Menendez

Sentry/Messenger: Ashley Armstrong

Teresa/Eurydice: Jaime Swartz

Director: Alex Gonzalez

Stage Manager: Juan Carlos Agundez

Assistant Stage Manager: Sana Haddad

Sound Designer: Rolando Del Rio

Set Designer: Colin Quinn

Costume Designer: Katie Bruno

Musical Director: Jason Mulligan 

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