An Afropunk, Trump-Era Take on the Classic “Antigone”

The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s production of the toga-and-sandals drama is made for today.

Photo by Sean McCoy

A young woman whose rebel brother died in battle wants to bury him. But the king whom the brother tried to overthrow forbids it. He’d rather public-shame the corpse. So under cover of darkness, the woman secretly performs funerary rites for her slain sibling. When the tyrant hears, he’s furious. (No, he doesn’t take to Twitter.)

Photo by Sean McCoy

Who will win this contest of wills: the defiant sister or the defensive autocrat? You’ll have to attend Classical Theatre of Harlem’s free outdoor production of Antigone to find out.

This isn’t just another toga-and-sandals affair whose plot you recall from Western Lit 101; CTH breathes exciting urban life into classic texts. In this case, the fifth-century B.C.E. tragedy has been inspired by Paul Roche’s adaptation of the Sophocles text, and it’s staged by Carl Cofield with Afropunk visual and dramaturgical influences. (Think: Wakanda with more formal, flowery language and a bummer ending.)

Antigone marks CTH’s sixth season of free shows in Harlem’s beautiful Marcus Garvey Park. This summer, the company emphasizes the need for powerful women who persist and resist social injustice and confront the patriarchy. The cast includes CTH head Ty Jones, as the paranoid King Creon, and fiery Alexandria King as righteous Antigone.  “Greek plays are unafraid to question everything we value—including life,” Jones says. “After 2,500 years, Antigone still asks: Are we all players on an odyssey to find our shared humanity, or are we in a perpetual state of ideological warfare that will always end in inhumane violence?”

Bring your pink pussy hat.

Why You Should Go: It’s a timeless story of authority and resistance, at a time when we need it most.

Richard Rodgers Amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park
18 Mount Morris Park West, Harlem
Saturday, July 7–Sunday, July 29 at 8:30

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