At 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9th, and Saturday, Oct. 10th, in Memorial Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 51-year-old Academy Award®-winning French actress Juliette Binoche will play the title role in what Carolina Performing Arts characterizes as a “stunning contemporary interpretation of Sophocles’ classic Greek masterpiece,” Antigone, newly translated by by T.S. Eliot Prize-winning Canadian poet Anne Carson and staged by Belgian director Ivo van Hove. This critically acclaimed international production was produced by the Barbican of London and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, in association with Toneelgroep Amsterdam, and co-produced by the Edinburgh International Festival, Théâtre de la Ville–Paris, and Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen of Recklinghausen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
According to Carolina Performing Arts:
“… This explosive tragedy explores many struggles: man against woman, political against ethical leadership, the laws of society against the right of the individual, family and its unbreakable blood ties. When [Oedipus’ daughter/sister Antigone’s] dead brother [Polynices] is decreed a traitor, his body left unburied beyond the city walls, Antigone refuses to accept this most severe of punishments. Forging ahead with a funeral on her own, she places personal allegiance before politics and triggers a cycle of destruction.”
In an interview with Pia Catton of The Wall Street Journal, Juliette Binoche said, “[Director] Ivo [van Hove] found a way of making [Antigone] very personal. It’s on a contemporary set with videos. It has a feeling of today. The [Greek] chorus is people from the street. They are not in one big group; they are individuals.”
She added, “When [the 2015 terrorist attack on] Charlie Hebdo happened in Paris, with the jihadists, nobody wanted to bury them. They were rejected. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with those guys…. It really made me think of [Antigone’s brother] Polynices.”
In an article in The Times of London, Ed Potton wrote, “[Juliette] Binoche has real power, a way of seizing the colloquial beauty of Anne Carson’s new translation. She leaves you in no doubt that the grieving Antigone is a damaged woman as well as a principled one.”
In his four-star review in The Guardian, Michael Billington added, “Team Juliette Binoche with Ivo van Hove … in Greek tragedy and the result is bound to be a prestige show: one that will tour Europe, including the Edinburgh festival, and the United States. But the result, in Anne Carson’s fine new translation, is much more than a snob hit: it’s a production that combines a sombre aesthetic beauty with a sense of the ambivalence at the heart of Sophocles’s play.”
Billington also wrote, “In lesser hands, the work can easily seem a moral melodrama: a study of a virtuous heroine who defies an implacable tyrant, Kreon, in her determination to bury her dead brother, Polyneikes. But here Kreon makes a plausible political case, one the Greeks would certainly have understood, in arguing that loyalty to the city takes precedence over private need. Equally, Antigone seems right to claim that respect for the dead is an unalterable divine law. Sophocles presents us with a portrait of mutual intransigence and, if Antigone suffers death for her obduracy, Kreon’s fate is even more destructively harrowing.”
In an article entitled “The unanswered question — how to get to the dark soul of Antigone,” Antigone director Ivo van Hove concludes, “Antigone develops from a play about a brutal war into a play about politics and public policies and ends as a play about the helplessness of humans, lost in the cosmos. It is a play about survival: not the survival of an individual or a family, but of a whole society, perhaps even the world. The play is ambivalent and dark, modern and mythical, leaving one with more questions than answers.”
In an essay entitled “The unanswered question — how to get to the dark soul of Antigone,” Antigone director Ivo van Hove concludes, “Antigone develops from a play about a brutal war into a play about politics and public policies and ends as a play about the helplessness of humans, lost in the cosmos. It is a play about survival: not the survival of an individual or a family, but of a whole society, perhaps even the world. The play is ambivalent and dark, modern and mythical, leaving one with more questions than answers.”
SECOND OPINION: Oct. 7th Durham, NC Indy Week preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/juliette-binoche-stars-in-a-radical-new-antigone-at-carolina-performing-arts/Content?oid=4794482; Sept. 28th Washington, DC NPR interview with Juliette Binoche, conducted by Terry Gross for “Fresh Air”: http://www.npr.org/2015/09/28/443484430/from-ingenue-to-antigone-juliette-binoche-discusses-acting-aging-and-family; Sept. 28th New York, NY New York Times review by Ben Brantley: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/28/theater/review-in-antigone-at-bam-agony-and-despair-in-inexorable-motion.html; and Sept. 24th New York, NY Wall Street Journal interview with Juliette Binoche, conducted by Pia Catton: http://www.wsj.com/articles/juliette-binoche-on-interpreting-antigone-for-today-1443124373.
Carolina Performing Arts presents ANTIGONE, featuring Juliette Binoche and directed by Ivo van Hove, at 8 p.m. Oct. 9 and 10 in Memorial Hall, 114 E. Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
TICKETS: $44 and up ($10 UNC students).
BOX OFFICE: 919-843-3333 or https://www.carolinaperformingarts.org/events-on-sale/.
SHOW: https://www.carolinaperformingarts.org/ros_perf_series/antigone-by-sophokles-featuring-juliette-binoche-directed-by-ivo-van-hove/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/875374609176661/.
PRESENTER: http://www.carolinaperformingarts.org/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carolina-Performing-Arts/9560250967, https://twitter.com/uncperformarts, and https://www.youtube.com/user/UNCPerformArts.
Antigone (c. 441 BC tragedy): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antigone_%28Sophocles_play%29 (Wikipedia).
Sophocles, a.k.a. Sophokles (Greek tragedian, c. 496-c.406 BC): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophocles (Wikipedia).
Anne Carson (Canadian poet and translator): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Carson (Wikipedia).
Barbican (producer): http://www.barbican.org.uk/ (official website),
Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg (producer): http://www.theatres.lu/ (official website),
Toneelgroep Amsterdam (associate producer): http://tga.nl/en (official website) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toneelgroep_Amsterdam (Wikipedia).
Ivo van Hove (Belgian theater director): http://tga.nl/en/employees/ivo-van-hove (Toneelgroep Amsterdam bio) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivo_van_Hove (Wikipedia).
Juliette Binoche (French actress): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000300/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juliette_Binoche (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail email@example.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)