MIYAGI Satoshi and SPAC’s “Antigone” returns in triumph to Shizuoka.
The production was originally created by MIYAGI in response to an invitation from Festival d’Avignon for him and SPAC to stage the opening play of its 71st edition in July 2017 — the first time that honor was ever extended to a dramatist from Asia.
Ahead of the trip to Provence, as part of SPAC’s annual Open-air Performing Arts Festival under Mt. Fuji in May 2017, it presented a preview version at a venue in Sumpujo Park.
Then two months later, in the Cour d’honneur du Palais des Papes in Avignon with the palace’s 30-meter stone walls as a backdrop, MIYAGI exquisitely blended the titular heroine’s refusal to label people as being good or bad with the Buddhist way in Japan of treating the deceased as equal souls for whom no bitterness remains.
In September 2019 it was staged at the Park Avenue Armory in New York in the Official Program of Japan 2019, a showcase of Japanese arts and culture.
Visually, too, the production magically combined Japanese beliefs with Greek mythology, astonishing its largely European and American audiences with a shallow, boulder-strewn pond on which candles floated, and through which actors in white costumes moved slowly around — all beneath those massive ramparts onto which their immense shadows were projected.
Described as a “timeless and urgent … blend of the classical with the contemporary” in The New York Times, the play was selected by U.S. TIME magazine as the sixth-best production of 2019 — another extraordinary accolade for an Asian theatre company.
Now, for the latest, upcoming staging of MIYAGI’s “Antigone,” SPAC will create an open-air venue in Sumpujo Park almost the size of those in Avignon and New York. The play will run alongside SPAC’s annual World Theatre Festival Shizuoka and its fringe relation, STRANGE SEED SHIZUOKA, that happens around the city.
History of SPAC’s “Antigone”
・4-7 May 2017 at Momijiyama Garden Square, Sumpjo Park (Capacity: 600 seats) | Open-air Performing Arts Festival under Mt. Fuji 2017
・6-12 July 2017 at Cour d’honneur du Palais des papes (Capacity: 2,000 seats) | Festival d’Avignon 71st edition
・25 Sept – 10 Oct 2019 at the Park Avenue Armory (Capacity: 1,000 seats)
This famous 5th Century B.C. tragedy by Sophocles is set in Thebes in ancient Greece, the city where King Oedipus was exiled because of an incestuous secret concerning his birth — a secret that leads his wife, Queen Jocasta, to kill herself when she discovers she is also his mother. After that Oedipus steps down, telling his sons Polynices and Eteocles to share the throne, but the brothers quarrel and Eteocles expels Polynices to Argos. Before long, Polynices returns with Argoan warriors to attack Thebes, and the brothers kill each other in one-to-one combat — hence fulfilling a curse made by their father. With their deaths, Creon, a brother of Jocasta, becomes king and has Eteocles buried with great ceremony — but decrees that anyone trying to bury or even mourn the traitor Polynices will be executed. Nonetheless, Antigone, a daughter of Oedipus and sister of the brothers, decides to bury Polynices … although her sister Ismene warns her not to do so.