“Essential” Classics

The Essential Theatre is known for its Afro centric theater productions. Its list of accomplishments includes plays such as “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enough” and “Zooman and the Sign.” However, the theater opened their doors to introduce students to a more diverse experience Wednesday.

For their first play of the semester, the Essential Theatre stepped outside of the box of ordinary black drama into the realm of classical Greek tragedy.

The Director of the Essential Theatre, Valencia Matthews said the theater performs a classic, not necessarily Greek, almost every two years.

“Our base and core is African-American theater, but we want to expose our students to different genres of theater,” she said.

Luther Wells, the production’s director, said the choice to do the play was influenced by its theme- responsibility and its familiarity with the student audience.

“Regardless of background, students will be familiar with Oedipus if not Antigone,” he said.

A continuation of the play “Oedipus the King,” “Antigone” is the story of Oedipus’ steadfast daughter who risks imprisonment and death to rightfully bury her disgraced brother’s corpse.

Brittany Johnson, 19, the title character, said playing Antigone was not an easy task.

“The hardest challenge was trying to connect myself to a character that is preparing to die,” said the sophomore theatre performance student from Miami.

To prepare for the show, the theatre rehearsed for five weeks. They also studied the techniques of Greek tragedies and practiced the Alexander technique. The technique is used to rid the body of harmful stress that sometimes accompanies the uncomfortable posturing of actors and musicians.

Erin Washington, the sophomore theatre performance student who portrays Ismene, said she reads her script every day to “stay fresh.”

The 20-year-old from Montgomery, Ala, said she better understood “Antigone” after performing it.

“I read it in high school, but I didn’t really get the whole thing until I became a character,” she said.

DeAldon Watson, 21,a senior theatre education student from Houston said acting in the Greek tragedy was a challenge.

“In order to understand the language and style, we had to read the script over and over and over again,” said Watson, who played Teiresias.

Wells does not take sole credit for coming up with the idea to perform “Antigone.”

“We have faculty meetings and we brainstorm,” Wells said.

Bernasha Anderson, a sophomore science student at Florida State, said she enjoyed the performance.

“I thought it was good, the imagery, the stage settings, and the lightning were all good,” said the 19-year-old from Miami.

Students still have plenty time to view the Greek tragedy. The show will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are free for all students with their Rattler cards. Admission is $5 for Non-FAMU students and children, $7 for senior citizens and $10 for adults.