Do you remember the crew’s promise back in November to offer a fresh look at Antigone? The show is now ready!

Directed by Tyrone Grima, the star-studded cast in this classical Greek play will be performing in a Victorian circus setting, complete with steam-punk costumes in a world-first for Anouilh’s version of the script. “Antigone is a script that comes laden with history, so it was important to do it justice from every angle,” Mr Grima explained. “The play brings together some of Malta’s best-known stage actors, while Angele Galea is working on the steam-punk costumes that are so reminiscent of Victorian fashion, there is a set by Perit Adrian Mamo, and a soundtrack by Chris Gatt. All this, we hope, will give audiences a new and exciting rendition of the classic that has never lost validity or importance.”

Photo credits: Steven Levi Vella

The production is a one-off collaboration between director Tyrone Grima, actress and producer Sharon Bezzina, and Teatru Manoel. It will see the historic stage of Teatru Manoel transformed into a Victorian circus for Jean Anouilh’s legendary adaptation of the ancient Greek play. Anouilh’s version of Antigone was first staged in 1944 at the Théâtre de l’Atelier in Paris. It follows the same narrative as the original Greek tragedy, but the struggle between good and evil in Anouilh’s version is less obvious.

It was a revolutionary play in every sense of the word when it debuted in Nazi-occupied Paris. “When I was approached by the Manoel to put on a classical play, I immediately thought of Antigone,” explains Mr Grima, who is known for his direction of Alfred Buttigieg’s Mela Hawn Xi Manikomju?, as well as Hesper Anderson and Mark Medoff’s Children of a Lesser God. “Yet, while going through Anouilh’s script – which is slightly different from that of Sophocles’ original from over 2,000 years ago – the metaphor of the caged animal kept cropping up…” This led to an innovative artistic decision: “In this version of the play, the characters are seen as having almost no say in how things pan out: Antigone was born to defy King Creon; Creon was born to kill Antigone. Those undertones of being caged and of being a spectator in one’s own life led us to staging it in a circus setting; and since circuses were at their peak during the Victorian era, the whole concept came into being.”

Photo credits: Steven Levi Vella

Moreover, to give the staging even more gravitas, two circus professionals from Italy were flown to Malta for a week to train specific members of the cast in one circus-related skill that ranged from hula-hooping to basic tight rope, and juggling to clowning.

Supported by the Malta Arts Fund and starring Sharon Bezzina and Charles Sammut in the roles of Antigone and King Creon, respectively, the play also features Malcolm Galea, Joseph Zammit, Vanessa Attard, Chiara Hyzler, Stephen Mintoff, Sean Briffa, Mariele Zammit and Graziella Galea Pirotta.

The show will run between Friday 2nd and Sunday 4th February. More information and tickets for Antigone are available here.