PEEP: Antigone, An Exploration of Performing Live Theatre During a Pandemic, Using Sophocles’ Antigone
Luton, Holly Charlotte
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Employing the dramaturgical methodology of Pandemic/Epidemic Embodied Performance (‘PEEP’), this practice-led research project staged a live theatre production of the ancient Greek tragedy Antigone, by Sophocles, in Auckland, New Zealand, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the restriction placed on theatre because of the global pandemic, the resulting production actualised a range of methods for theatre to respond in times of crisis while retaining the aesthetics and ephemeral qualities of live performance. Integral to this research is an exploration of how ancient Greek tragedy is relevant to contemporary theatre audiences. The research project extensively engages with the scenographic work of practitioners Lizzie Clachan and Soutra Gilmour (focusing on their performance design contributions in British theatre), which influenced and informed the design of PEEP: Antigone. Artist Marcel Duchamp’s theoretic perception of spectatorship and liveness in Art is explored through his sculpture Étant Donnés: 1. La Chute d’eau, 2. Le Gaz d’éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas). An examination of Robert Lepage’s roles as a dramaturg, director, and designer of the theatre, makes personal the pressures of working within the theatre and supported comprehension of the external conflicts that can obstruct the nature of theatre-making. Central to PEEP’s contextual focus is Feminist Theory and Theatre (FTT) in conjunction with Research as Theatre (RaT). These theories are explored through critical scholars Judith Butler and Yelena Gulzman, who subsequently argue for and against the approach that all research is categorically performative but not necessarily theatrical. Positioning the research through an epistemologically dramaturgical and theatrical perspective, the written thesis follows the structure of an ancient Greek tragic plot, with titles to guide the audience through the story of this research process.