Press Releases

15.16 Antigone

An international, cross-cultural production with eight Philadelphia actors and three Attis actors.

October 7-November 8, 2015

Contact: Sara Madden
215-893-9456 ext. 102 |

September 2015

The Wilma Theater is honored to welcome back Attis Theater Artistic Director Theodoros Terzopoulos (AJAX the madness, co-presented with FringeArts in 2013), who will lead eight Philadelphia actors and three Attis actors in creating an original adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone. This production, which Terzopoulos has adapted from an English translation by Marianne McDonald, merges a physically rigorous methodology with a classical text, and is performed in both English and ancient Greek by an international ensemble. A project initially inspired by a New Yorker essay about the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, Antigone invites conversation around moral, religious, and political dilemmas regarding the unburied dead.

The story of Antigone begins years after the events depicted in Oedipus. Oedipus’ sons, Polyneices and Eteocles, have just fought a war over who will rule Thebes. The battle is over, and both are dead. Their uncle, Creon, is the new king. He orders Eteocles buried with honors but decrees that Polyneices’ body should be left for the birds to devour. Antigone, the dead brothers’ sister, disobeys this order: she believes her duty to her brother is greater to her than her duty to her king. As Marianne McDonald, Sophocles translator and Professor of Theatre and Classics at the University of California, San Diego, describes, “Sophocles is the playwright of heroism, and Antigone is the first female character in drama to be a hero in the full sense of the word. She is the first conscientious objector. Both Antigone and Creon mourn the loss of those they love: one defends the unwritten laws of the gods, and Creon the laws of the state. Both are valid, but compromise is needed for a successful resolution. Antigone and Creon, as so many world leaders today, will not compromise. This is their tragedy on one hand and supposed triumph on the other.”

Antigone also marks the inauguration of the Wilma HotHouse, an artist-centric approach to project development and advanced actor training that will allow artists to dare and explore under the Wilma’s auspices. HotHouse Company actors will participate in all stages of the creation of Wilma work, performing in mainstage productions, including Antigone; participating in workshops; and helping further to develop and refine the Wilma’s performance aesthetic.

Press Contact:
Sara Madden
Marketing and Community Relations Manager
215.893.9456 x102
265 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
Admin. Phone: 215.893.9456
Box Office: 215.546.7824

Antigone begins on Wednesday, October 7, 2015; opens on Wednesday, October 14, 2015; and has been extended through Sunday, November 8, 2015 due to popular demand.

Critics and members of the press are invited to attend Press Night on Wednesday, October 14, at 7:30pm. For ticket arrangements, contact Sara Madden at or 215.893.9456 x102.

After The Wilma co-presented AJAX the madness with FringeArts in 2013, artistic directors Blanka Zizka and Theodoros Terzopoulos sought a way for The Wilma Theater and Attis Theatre to collaborate. They decided that the tragedy of Antigone, and the implications of its theme of unburied dead within modern political discourse, was an important piece to explore. This impulse to revisit timeless texts is a fundamental part of Terzopoulos’ technique: as Terzopoulos explained in an Attis Theater workshop in 2014, which Blanka Zizka attended, “The most dangerous things—all the material of theater—we can find in the Greek tragedy. We have the lost traditions of our ancestors, the dissolved traditions of our fathers. There is violence in the art of theater, and through this work, this digging, we encounter an explosion of memory.”

Antigone explores these nuances of memory and memorial as part of Terzopoulos’ larger Unburied Bodies project, an international partnership between Attis Theatre and important theaters and creators from all over the world. The project was inaugurated at the Attis Theatre in Athens on May 30, 2015 with a four-hour event that featured 22 young poets, who presented poems that they had written especially on this subject.

While the Wilma’s Antigone was adapted from Marianne McDonald’s English translation of the text, the production will use both English and ancient Greek. Regardless of where and in what language Terzopoulos directs tragedies, his choruses always speak in the original ancient Greek, due to “the musicality of the verses, and also because of the exceptional relation between the vowels and the consonants.” In this way, Terzopoulos uses his actors’ bodies to explore language from the inside out, capturing its essences through physical movement and interaction between performers. “We go into this dark root of a scream; we will re-construct it,” he explains. “We don’t want to re-live the pain of the
scream: it’s not psychological, it’s physiological, and we can use all these vowels to create melodies. How does someone lament? We can’t lament if we stay in our brains. We have to give it up. We have to destroy these Berlin Walls.”

While Terzopoulos has worked extensively with the production’s Attis Theatre actors (Stathis Grapsas, Antonis Miriagos, and Paolo Musio), its Philadelphia actors are brand new to him. The American company was chosen after a two-week workshop with Terzopoulos in January 2015, and the seven-week rehearsal process will be both physically and vocally demanding: “we must break the fixed ideas, prisons, rules, and re-construct a new image,” says Terzopoulos, “and actors have to have bodies that can be a material for these transformations. The body contains a whole new world.”

About the Director
Theodoros Terzopoulos was born in the village of Makrygialos, in the Pieria area of Northern Greece. He attended K. Michailidis’ Drama School (Athens) and the Berliner Ensemble (Berlin). He was the Director of the Drama School of the State Theatre of Northern Greece from 1981-1983 and the Artistic Director of the International Meeting of Ancient Drama in Delphi from 1985-1988. Terzopoulos created Attis Theatre Group in Delphi in 1985. Since 1990 he has been a founding member of the International Institute of the Mediterranean Theatre for which he became the President of the Greek department in 1991. Since 1993 he has been the Chairman of the International Committee of the Theatre Olympics. In 2005 he founded the new International Meeting of Ancient Drama. Recent performances with Attis Theatre are a co-production of Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus with Istanbul Cultural Capital of Europe in 2010, Antigone by Sophocles at the Central Drama Academy of Beijing in 2011, and Mauser by Heiner Müller at the Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw in 2012. As Professor Marianne McDonald describes, “Terzopoulos’ works are heart-wrenching dramas, using the body with the human soul as the main performer. Pain, and its memory, is engraved on the human body.” In all of his pieces, Terzopoulos’ actors are imbued with a specificity of movement, depicting language through their physicality in ways that are both uniquely Greek, drawing upon ancient Greek texts and modern politics alike, and viscerally universal.

About Attis Theatre
Attis Theatre was founded in 1985 in Delphi by Theodoros Terzopoulos. Its elementary aim is the research upon ancient Greek tragedy and significant plays of international dramaturgy. Attis Theatre has presented over 1,850 performances all over the world. It collaborates with international festivals and foreign theatres as a co-producer of multilingual and multicultural performances. It promotes Terzopolous’ working method, and has organized 300 workshops and 50 conferences on theatrical theory, most of them in conjunction with the most important drama academies. Books about Attis Theatre have been published and translated in several languages. Attis’ theatre performances of ancient tragedy, which are considered to be exemplary, are being taught in 30 international universities.

Cast and Design Team
The cast features Ross Beschler (Our Class, Under the Whaleback, Bootycandy, Hamlet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead) as Teiresias and Chorus, Sarah Gliko (Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Hamlet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead) as Ismene and Eurydice, Stathis Grapsas as Teiresias and Chorus, Justin Jain as Chorus, Jennifer Kidwell as Antigone, Antonis Miriagos as Creon, Paolo Musio as Leader of Chorus, Jered McLenigan (Pillowman, Amadeus, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Hamlet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead) as Guard and Chorus; Brian Ratcliffe (Under the Whaleback, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, The Real Thing, Hamlet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead) as Haemon and Chorus; Steven Rishard (Big Love, Hamlet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead) as Messenger and Chorus; Ed Swidey (Macbeth, Our Class, Curse of the Starving Class, Under the Whaleback, Hamlet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead) as Narrator. Adaptation, direction, lighting design, choreography, costumes, and stage design by Theodoros Terzopoulos. Assistant Direction and Training by Savvas Stroumpos. Music composition by Panayotis Velianitis. Patreshettarlini Adams is the Resident Stage Manager.

Special Events and Opportunities
There will be five large-scale photographs of Attis Theatre on display throughout the Wilma’s run of Antigone. These photographs are by Johanna Weber, who has chronicled the work of Theodoros Terzopoulos since 1993, and are part of an exhibition that has been displayed alongside Terzopoulos’ work in Athens, Beijing, and Moscow.

The Return: Monday, October 19, 7:30pm, FREE
Join Antigone actor Stathis Grapsas for this special presentation. His presentation will center around a screening of The Return, a film of a performance Grapsas created with young inmates at one of the harshest prisons in Europe, examining the issue of recidivism as a cathartic journey of metamorphosis and a head-on collision with fate through wordless physical theater. Mr. Grapsas will also give an illustrated talk relating this work to global issues of dehumanization. Tickets are FREE for this event, but reservations should be made with the Wilma’s Box Office by calling 215.546.7824, emailing, or coming to the theater, located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia.

Young Friends pre-show reception: Friday, October 23, 7pm
For audience members 40 and under, this performance includes a complimentary pre-show food and drink reception at the Wilma from 7 to 8pm!

Theodoros Terzopoulos – Encomium for the Theatre
Monday, October 26, 7:30pm FREE
Join us for a special screening of this 2011 documentary about the director of Antigone. The film gives a behind the scenes look at the work of Theodoros Terzopoulos with the Attis Theatre, providing insight on his vision and training technique. Directed by Dimitris Trikkas. Tickets are FREE for this screening, but reservations should be made with the Wilma’s Box Office by calling 215.546.7824, emailing, or coming to the theater, located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia.

Coffee Chat: Wednesday, October 28, 4pm
Learn more about the production through discussions with artists and audience members following the performance; complimentary coffee included!

Historical Society of Pennsylvania Reception and Exhibit:
Thursday, October 29, 6pm
Join the Wilma and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania for a complimentary pre-show reception and exhibit at the Historical Society’s home right down the street from the Wilma, 1300 Locust Street. The curated exhibit will include items from the Historical Society’s archives that center around female activism and civil disobedience. The reception will start at 6pm and guests will be guided to the Wilma at 7:15pm for a 7:30pm performance of Antigone. Tickets are $25 and include the reception and performance. They are available at the Wilma’s Box Office by calling 215.546.7824, visiting, or coming to the theater, located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia. If buying online, use the code HSPWilma when purchasing tickets to that evening’s performance. If purchasing over the phone or in person, please RSVP for the reception and exhibit.

Open Captioning: Saturday, October 31, 2pm

With the 2015/16 season, The Wilma Theater will continue its Wilma WynTix initiative. All tickets, including subscription tickets, for all days and times throughout the full four-week mainstage run will be enjoyed by the general public at the subsidized rate of $25 or $10 for students and theater artists. Ticket prices for the extension are $45 with $10 tickets available to students and theater artists. Tickets are available at the Wilma’s Box Office by calling 215.546.7824, visiting, or coming to the theater, located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia.

Antigone is made possible in part through the generous support of David Haas. The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Center City is the season sponsors.Palm Restaurant at The Bellevue is the opening night sponsor for the 2015/16 season.

The Wilma Theater creates living, adventurous art. We engage artists and audiences in imaginative reflection on the complexities of contemporary life. We present bold, original, well-crafted productions that represent a range of voices, viewpoints, and styles.