Antigone: A Virtual Take on a Greek Tragedy

Red Antigone play poster
September 30, 2020


By Bianca Trinidad, Class of 2021, BS in Marketing and minor in Journalism


When classes transitioned to online at The George Washington University, theater professor and director, Matthew R. Wilson was astounded by the large number of students who emailed him in the summer saying: “So, I guess we’re just not gonna do plays this fall.”


But upon receiving those emails, Wilson realized that this could not be the answer. 


“We couldn’t accept that we’re just not going to do something,” expressed Wilson. “So, this is our effort to find out what is possible.”


The Corcoran’s program of Theatre and Dance will be presenting a virtual performance of the classic Greek tragedy, Antigone, on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 7:30 PM (EST) via Zoom for free. 


“I thought let’s use the Zoom aesthetic, but use it by recording and editing so that we could individually capture twelve people,” explained Wilson. “And then, through the magic of post-production, put them back together in a digital space to create a digital ensemble out of twelve individual recordings.” 


Throughout September, Professor Wilson and his students have been working tirelessly to create a virtual performance that depicts today’s virtual life. Through Webex, students individually record themselves on their phone and then upload footage to a box file. After recording, nearly half of the cast are editing, along with the help of two Virginia-based filmmakers, Antonio Rodriguez and Jackie Stephen.


In addition, every performer was mailed an identical package of gear to help them with their production. They each received: a green screen, LED lights, a ring light, a tripod, a microphone and their costumes. 


“They have to do their own soundcheck, their lighting, their hair and makeup. They have to assume responsibility that ‘I am the last eyeball for all of these things,’” explained Wilson. “So, I have to give up a lot of responsibility as a director.”


Aside from acting, the students have been tackling different jobs in producing this play, which poses not only as a challenge but also as a window of opportunity.  


“The multi-tasking, the professionalism that it takes to do an actor’s job, while also doing all the things that are getting in the way. That’s the biggest challenge for them, but more so an opportunity for them to grow,” said Wilson.


Regarding the set-up of the performance, Wilson and his students wanted to create a similar feel to the Greek style of theater performance, by having the performers talk directly to the audience by looking straight at the webcam.


“This 2,500-year-old style of Greek theater plays very well in a teleconference setting,” said Wilson.


Moreover, aside from the hard work of the students, a lot of acknowledgement can also be given to choreographer Morgan Furnari, composer Heather Stephens and the whole production design faculty for rethinking entirely how to make a play.


Play summary:


by Sophocles; Translated by Elizabeth Wyckoff

Directed by Matt Wilson

Virtual Performance presented by the Corcoran Program of Theatre & Dance

One of the great Greek Tragedies, The King Creon has decreed that the body of his nephew, the rebel Polynices, is not to be buried. But Antigone, Creon’s niece and sister to Polynices, refuses to accept this dishonor. The Law vs the Rebel, a family’s honor vs the status quo, a King vs the gods—and a niece defying her uncle.