The new version by Roy Williams written especially for Pilot Theatre re-imagines the tale about loyalty and truth, human nature and human behaviour in the contemporary setting of the gangster world.
Williams says he was intrigued to know if it was possible to set Antigone in a world that he has written about before.
“When I have met young people while researching for plays about gang culture I’ve been really surprised to hear them talking about themselves in military terms,” he said.
“The whole notion of gang members seeing themselves as soldiers in a war is something the can be really well explored with the story of Antigone.”
This is the third time that Marcus Romer of Pilot has worked with Williams and the director says it is because he is the type of writer who can engage audiences who might be outside the mainstream and in this case he is talking about young people.
“An audience wants to see itself reflected on the stage,” said Romer.
“Some young people may be studying this – although that’s not why we’ve programmed it – and for some of them this will be their first experience of theatre.
“What they will see is a play that has a strong central female character and a story which is told in a surprising and vibrant, colourful way.
“This is a play about extreme circumstances, it’s about power struggles and corruption and defiance and betrayal – there is a reason the story is still being told after 2,000 years.
“This new production, set in a urban city environment, is incredibly relevant and vital,” he added.
CCTV cameras are used in the production to replay what has happened to remind the characters of the turmoil their actions have created.
In a typically inventive Pilot way Romer says the technology will be used to produce live feed of the action on stage on to screens.
“The cameras around us, whether it’s CCTV or mobiles, are the all-seeing eye. They are the Gods of today and we have used the technology in our ever-growing toolbox to create that idea on the stage.”
The production opens in the city on September 19 for two weeks before touring the UK. It is being staged in partnership with Derby Theatre and the Theatre Royal Stratford East.
Romer is a huge supporter of the way the University of Derby has transformed the theatre from a traditional producing house to one that offers many learning opportunities.
“Pilot aims to inspire creativity and new ways of thinking and it is great to be able to work with the team at Derby. One things for certain that while we are working in the city our rehearsal room door will always be open to anyone who is interested enough to want to watch,” he said.