Interview: Peter Swallow on ‘Antigone’

Peter, you weren’t too impressed with the French department’s production of Antigone. How have you been taking a different approach to the play? I was actually very impressed with the […]

Peter, you weren’t too impressed with the French department’s production of Antigone. How have you been taking a different approach to the play?

I was actually very impressed with the French Society’s production of Antigone (I did give it 3 ½ stars after all) but it wasn’t flawless. It’s a difficult, emotionally charged play, and it’s hard to deliver on, so that’s understandable. We, however, have been working very hard to get the show to where it needs to be.

We’ve been working hard with all our actors to make sure that they portray all they can. The play works well when performed with a black minimalism which is at The Barron’s core, so we’re lucky to have that as our venue. Our set will be simple and we won’t use elaborate props or costumes – the focus will be on the raw human emotion the play presents so well.

That said, I can promise you one toga.

So, it’s set in Ancient Greece and features a young woman stealing her brother’s corpse in order to give him a proper burial. Is it relevant to 21st century St Andrews?

It’s actually set outside of time and space: it’s a message of duty, and whether one should follow that duty. It’s a message of authority and the dangers of standing up to it. It’s also a great meta-theatrical study on drama and tragedy itself, and its self-realisation as a play is a fascinating aspect.

Antigone herself is a complex, moody, demanding young woman, a powerful feminist figure who in many ways represents the average 20-year-old today. Creon, too, is characterised incredibly humanly; every character is written and performed very realistically. I think the audience will be able to see similarities between each character and people they know.

This is not a play about burial or religion like the original Greek version. It’s a play about people.

Adryon, Antigone is an emotionally demanding role – how have you been getting into character?

Antigone goes through incredible mood swings–very much like the teenaged me!–so I use many of my own memories to create believable moods for Antigone. My scenes with Haemon, Antigone’s fiancé, or Creon the king are fuelled by experiences of my own lovers or disputes with my own family. But at the same time I constantly remind myself when I am on stage that I am not Adryon: I am Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, of royal blood. On stage, the real person, the actor, must cease to exist. The intention of each line is said as Antigone, not as a line in script that I’ve memorised.

Peter, it’s been described it on the Facebook event page as being about ‘the power of saying no’. Why should we say ‘yes’ when asked if we’re going to see Antigone?

Antigone is an emotional play with lots of ups and downs. The audience will hate, love, laugh and feel pity, at times all within one scene. More than that, though, it’s a play with a message; a message of individualism against the state and one’s own family, a message of sacrifice for one’s beliefs. The best drama teaches you something, about yourself, about the world you live in. Antigone does that so it’s definitely worth seeing. It’s also interesting in that it doesn’t just express its morality in plain black and white. The two principal characters, Creon and Antigone are both right; they’re also both wrong. The question becomes, who do you agree with more?

Our Antigone, Adryon Kozel, seems born for the role, and Simon Lamb’s Creon is intimidating but sympathetic – and they are supported by an amazing cast of actors who are all so talented it is astonishing. If you don’t come for the emotion or the ideas, come for the acting – you really won’t be disappointed.

Catch ‘Antigone’ at the Barron at 7pm on November 3rd and 4th for just £5!