Scottish Dance Theatre: Reimagining Sophocles for the 21st century
- Kelly Apter
- 12 February 2020
Artistic director Joan Clevillé discusses Antigone, Interrupted, the company's adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy
When a play retains its popularity for over 2000 years, it must be saying something worth listening to. But any company operating in the 21st century needs to move with the times. So when Joan Clevillé, artistic director of Scottish Dance Theatre, decided to adapt Sophocles' Antigone, he knew he needed a mix of past and present-day thinking. 'When you tackle something like a Greek tragedy, a lot of questions come up,' says Clevillé. 'Like why and how? Do you just reproduce what's been done before? Does the world need another version of Antigone?'
Re-naming the show Antigone, Interrupted helped him on his way, a title borrowed from American feminist theorist Bonnie Honig, and a reference to how solo dancer/actor Solène Weinachter performs the piece. 'Solène delivers text from the original but she also interrupts it several times, to change character, to comment on what's happening or to relate it to her own story,' explains Clevillé. 'So the narrative isn't presented in one go or in one world, we keep shifting perspectives, shifting in time and reality.'
Clevillé and Weinachter were both dancers with Scottish Dance Theatre before working together in his own company, where text played a large part. For Antigone, Interrupted, Clevillé sought the help of dramaturgist Ella Hickson, then wrote several sections himself to sit alongside Sophocles' words. 'It's probably about 50/50,' says Clevillé. 'I think it's very clear when we're immersed in the story, and then Solène might reflect on a particular event or describe the city of Thebes, setting up a scene before we dive into it.'
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 20–Sat 22 Feb, and touring.