“The Passion As Told By Antigona Perez” Presented by Thriving Artists

This moving production by Thriving Artists, a less-than-a-year-old Latino theatre company makes me want to see more of their work. Spotlighting Seattle’s Latino talent in all aspects of theatre production, “The Passion As Told By Antigona Perez” has much to commend it.

Antigona Perez is a stand-in for Antigone, the heroine of the Sophocles play named for her. She was the sister who refused to let her slain brother be consumed by carrion eaters as he lay unburied and unsanctified where he fell in battle. Creon, the new king, had decreed that most heinous punishment as a warning to all others against insurrection. For daring to disobey Creon’s orders by burying her brother, Creon sentenced Antigone to be buried alive in a cave.

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Javonna Arriaga, Photo by Marquicia Domingue

“The Passion as Told By Antigona Perez” opens on a sparse stage where Antigona) stands in solitude speaking for those who grow up where true freedom and equality don’t exist. She has indeed disobeyed her nation’s dictator, and he has decreed that she will pay dearly for her insubordination. She represents justice; he represents repression, mouthing platitudes, secure in his power, supported as he is by armies and henchmen.

Throughout the play, the action is interrupted by on-line media coverage. A large screen above the stage projects the faces of multiple reporters presenting the news, rather the official “news.” The reportage of this “Greek Chorus” causes one to reflect on the ability of all media, new and old, to manipulate truth.

Exchanges between the dictator and Monsignor, the head of the church, make clear the collusion between state and church. Meanwhile, scenes in the boudoir of the First Lady of the Republic speak to the enormous wealth of the few in a society where the many are so less privileged. Much is implied by the wonderful contrast between this elegant, beautifully clad woman, and the dirt smeared, ragged looking Antigona.

Social commentary is front and center in this earnest play by Puerto Rican playwright Luis Rafael Sanchez, translated by Arlene Martinez-Vazquez who also directed this production. Fortunately, it avoids being a harangue. The acting is powerful. The lighting creatively defines spaces and highlights mood. I had some trouble hearing everything said by Javonna Arriaga who plays Antigona with both power and subtlety, and that was a real loss.

It’s an ambitious production well realized, a remarkably good first effort.

Through Aug. 30, a Thriving Artists production at 12th Ave. Arts, 1620 12th Ave., Seattle, (brownpapertickets.com or arlene@thrivingartists.org)

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