Free Afropunk classic ‘Antigone’ on uptown stage

.Alexandria King as Antigone
Richard Termine

When it comes to presenting free cultural entertainment during the summer, the unrivalled champion city in America is New York.

For all its repute for being expensive and unaffordable, city parks throughout the boroughs provide dance, music, spoken word, films and theater free of charge or at a premium low to anyone willing to put a pause on air-conditioners and television sets and stepping out into breezy, tree-lined outdoor spaces.

Daily until July 29, at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater inside Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, The Classical Theatre of Harlem adds to a long list of contributors willing to respond to the yearning of audiences longing for classic theatrical productions.

Reputed for telling stories “as seen through the lens of the African diaspora and does work that honors the cultural legacy of the neighborhood in which it was founded: Harlem. CTH combines original adaptations, music and dance to present great classics of world literature as well as contemporary works that will stand the test of time while being truly reflective of the diversity of ideas and racial tapestry that is America.”

By staging “Antigone,” a 2500-year-old Greek classic by Sophocles, CTH returns for a sixth season with a presentation that “captures the resoluteness of a woman who refuses to back down, despite what is at stake in a patriarchal society.”

The musical “showcases the strength and voices of audacious women responding to rigid societal inequities.”

Inspired by Paul Roche’s adaptation of a 2018 Afropunk version, the defiance of a woman named Antigone challenges a society much like the one Democrats allegedly mean to defy.

“After 2500 years, ‘Antigone’ still asks of us – are we all players on an odyssey to find our shared humanity or are we in a perpetual state of ideological warfare that will always end in inhumane violence?” — Ty Jones, producing artistic director of The Classical Theatre of Harlem queried.

Calling on the cultural landscape of African-American traditions while adhering to the Greek tragic form director Carl Cofield reimages the classic story to captivate, stun and inspire audiences from all backgrounds.

“Our Antigone is inspired by a counter-culture movement known as Afropunk, which will be juxtaposed with the themes of tradition and order. The current political climate is ripe for this story. Women across the world are finding their voices and confronting powerful men, institutions and organizations. This timely ancient text is still clearly relevant today, he said.

Featuring a company that includes: Obie award winner Ty Jones (as Creon), Alexandria King (as Antigone), Kahlil X. Daniel (as Teiresias), Avon Haughton (as Haemon), Ava McCoy (as Ismene), and Adaku Okpi (as Eurydice) King shines as the passionate feminist.

She snagged the lead role after auditioning for the CTH offering to talented thespians. It is her second foray with the company and credits them with revolutionizing her craft. Admittedly after winning the lead she immersed herself reading about Black historical figures.

Of her SRO audiences with the acclaimed Uptown Shakespeare in the Park CTH she said she is thrilled to return for a second outing that since 1999 has been successful in showcasing “ancient ideas that have taken center stage in the current climate: order, law, justice and marginalized voices confronting power and patriarchy.”

“Though we call our summer season ‘Uptown’ Shakespeare in the Park,’ we took a detour this summer to present ‘Antigone’ for one simple reason — Greek plays are unafraid to question everything we value — including life. ‘Antigone’ is a story where the people, who assert they are right, clash with a system, whose leaders have the same assertion.

According to the script the play is “set in the city of Thebes in a dystopian future, the struggle for power, glory and the claim to the city shatters the bonds of brotherhood, leaving two men lifeless. The new king proclaims one brother a hero and the other a usurper, leaving his limp body lying in the street as an example to those who dare act against the state. The citizens of the city avert their eyes due to fear, turning instead to their new leader who vows to restore order to the war torn city. But when the sister of the slain young brothers protests the edict, she breaks faith with everything she has ever known in order to set things right at any cost.”

The ensemble also features dancers from Elisa Monte Dance.

Technical company wizards include: choreographer, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, costume Designer Lex Liang, lighting designer Alan C. Edwards, scenic designer Christopher & Justin Swader, sound designer Curtis Craig, production stage manager Megan Sprowls, projections designer Katherine Freer and props maneuvered by Samantha Shoffner.

Guests can enter the park at 124th Street & Fifth Avenue, and walk south to the venue. No reservations are required.

For more information, visit:

Ava McCoy as Ismene and Alexandria King as Antigone.
Richard Termine

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