Student director leads theater department’s ‘Antigone’
Pride, morality, feminism, rebellion: just a few of the daily thoughts running through the mind of Sofia Galloway ’13. They are the themes of French dramatist Jean Anouilh’s adaptation of the Greek tragedy “Antigone,” which Galloway is in the process of directing. As opening night (March 14) approaches, she can add anticipation to that list as well.
A year has passed since Galloway was accepted as director of the show. When she returned to the Hill for second semester, it was finally time to begin preparations, starting with auditions that took place Feb. 7-10, giving her little more than a month to have the show ready for an audience.
“It’s been wonderful,” Galloway said. “Yes, it’s definitely stressful, but it forces [me] to get my work done early and fast. And I would not have that same mentality if I had three months instead.”
Julia Valen ’14 and John-Michael Verrall ’14 lead the 11-member cast as Antigone and Creon, respectively. According to Galloway, a cast of 11 is the perfect size for a show playing in the “intimate” and “versatile” Haugen Theater. And just as the space of the theater will draw the audience in to the play, Galloway foresees the same from her cast.
“The best auditions are those that are open, that make a director feel like they can get in the piece and really work with it,” Galloway said. “I like to be invited into the performance and feel like the actor and I could work together to make something good, great.”
The St. Olaf theater department features one senior-directed performance every year. Galloway recalls attending a theater department information session during her first year and deciding that she would take advantage of this opportunity to individually direct a performance.
Assistant Professor of Theater Jeanne Willcoxon considers this project to be an opportunity that is both special and important to aspiring directors because of the amount of responsibility granted to the students.
“I am so glad that we do this,” Willcoxon said. “Our students really use this opportunity to the fullest, and it gives them a taste of what they will encounter when they direct in theater after St. Olaf.”
This type of experience has not been absent from Galloway’s task, who says that there is no such thing as a typical day of rehearsal. In addition to the casting, blocking and movement workshops necessary to compose the production onstage, student directors have the duty of overseeing every backstage element, such as management of the production budget and collaboration with staff involved in publicity, ticketing, scenery, design, costume, lighting and sound.
Galloway has not been fazed by her workload because it already required extensive effort to achieve her position. Two years after she made the personal decision to direct during her senior year, she had to complete an application, including a budget plan, detailing previous acting and directing experience and discussing the goals for this production.
“The application process is extensive and detailed,” said Professor of Theater Karen Wilson. “I don’t know of any [other] undergraduate institution in the United States that offers such an opportunity. Obviously the selection is competitive.”
Galloway compared the application process to preparing an important essay. It was a challenging task, requiring major research, but it was one she was excited to tackle, especially once she selected “Antigone”: a text that perfectly illustrated the issues she hoped to see onstage.
“I was hooked,” Galloway said. “I wanted to know why it was so popular in Ancient Greece and then again in 1944 in France when it was adapted. What is it about the Greek plays that makes them so universal?”
The St. Olaf theater department is clearly just as curious since they approved Galloway’s proposal. And as she prepares to unveil her vision of this production to the St. Olaf community, she hopes she can present this story in a way that is relevant for her classmates.
“The language is so rich and beautiful,” Galloway said. “My only goal is that I can bring justice to this important and outstanding text.”
“Antigone” opens March 14 and runs through March 17.