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Greek tragedy comes to Canberra

Elsie Adamo

It’s likely that you’ll recognise Andrea Demetriades from her impressive list of television and stage credits.

From ABC dramas Crownies and Janet King, the comedy film Alex & Eve, Bell Shakespeare’s tours of Pericles and Twelfth Night, and Pygmalion, Andrea is a force to be reckoned with. Now it is live theatre that is bringing her back to Canberra this month, with Canberra Theatre Centre’s adaptation of the Classic Greek Tragedy, Antigone. 

Antigone, by Sophocles, is a tragedy centred on the feisty heroine’s struggle to maintain her personal conscience in a time of extreme social and patriotic pressure. This particular adaptation has been modernised to reflect modern urban Europe at war rather than the battles of Ancient Greece.  As to why Andrea was drawn to the role, she says: “Antigone always fascinated me and inspired me because it’s the young female fighting for what she believes in. Antigone is willing to die for those beliefs.”

Modernisations of classical plays are a tricky business; the adaptation must find the right balance between staying true to the key messages of the original text and presenting something fresh and relevant. This balance, Andrea says, has been done well in this version, “because it honours the text immensely.” Andrea only needed to know that director Damien Ryan was central to the project to realise the risk would be worthwhile.

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Andrea Demetriades

“When I found out he had done the adaptation I knew I couldn’t go wrong, I love Damien and I think he’s a fantastic director and it’s a great theatre company,” she says.

The play’s ancient themes, combined with the modern treatment, has seen this adaptation of Antigone receive critical acclaim, with Andrea’s performance often being highlighted. A reviewer for The Australian Stage has gone as far as to say, “It is not only one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in quite a while, but it is one of the finest examples of ‘updating’ the classics into a contemporary context that I have ever seen in over two decades.”

Coming off a comedic film, Andrea is excited to be back on stage again with a new challenge. Whilst loving the screen, she feels there is something special about having the immediate response from a live audience. Andrea admits that theatre comes, of course, with some added challenges.

“You always want to make the audience feel something,” she says.

“I like both (film and stage), but it is nice to have the audience there.”

Despite all her successes Andrea is still warm, down to earth and excited to visit our little corner of the world. A particular fan of our theatre space, she says: “I love Canberra. One of the best things about coming here is that the theatre is fantastic.”

As a Canberra resident, I admit that I am guilty of not taking full advantage of our great local theatre scene as we have some of the best productions in the country passing through, but I will not be missing Antigone. If I haven’t convinced you, however, Andrea should. “It is a really beautiful production because aspects of the Ancient Greek culture come alive, yet it’s also relevant and contemporary.”

Tickets are rightfully selling fast, with Thursday almost completely sold out. Get in quickly.

the essentials

What: Antigone
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre,  The Playhouse
When: 27 – 29 October
Website: canberratheatrecentre.com.au/show/antigone-by-sophocles/

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Elsie Adamo

Elsie originally hails from South Australia but after almost five years in the Capital likes to consider herself now as a local. A student at ANU she keeps herself busy on campus with student societies and now interning at HerCanberra. Her great loves include sitcoms, podcasts, bookstores, cider, brunch and online shopping. More about the Author

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