WEST COAST PREMIERE! They all have a million secrets. What's so bad about this one? The St. Catherine's drama club is struggling to put up its first school play - Sophocles' "Antigone." As if staging this tragedy in an all-girls Catholic school isn't challenging enough, the cast's beloved director ends up betraying them in an unforgivable way - and it's almost opening night! The cast must figure out the right course of action, all while rehearsing a classic play about impossibly difficult choices. What is the right thing to do? And must the show go on?
Performing on the Broadwater Main Stage (Entrance at 1078 Lillian Way)
"...gripping and engaging..." -Stage Raw
"...a #MeToo alarm blast of a play... a riveting young cast... Onstage, Dutt effectively tightened and released the story's tension... amid steam bursts of apprehension-relieving laughter... I was reviewing the play, designating it a Times Critic's Choice, but the show closed before the piece could be published." -L.A. Times
Planned run cancelled due to COVID-19:
MARCH 6 - APRIL 11, 2020
Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm
Sunday Matinees 3/22, 3/29 & 4/5 @ 3pm
Monday, March 30 @ 8pm
Friday, March 13: DONATE WHAT YOU CAN. It's "Pay What You Can" with a twist! Half of all proceeds for this performance will be donated to Five Acres. Since their beginnings as an orphanage in downtown Los Angeles, Five Acres has been committed to strengthening children and families and empowering them within their communities. Now as one of the county's oldest nonprofits, today they strive for permanency: a permanent, loving family for every child in our care. We offer a full continuum of care for children and families in crisis, including foster care, adoption, deaf services, therapeutic residential care for foster youth and community-based mental/behavioral health programs.
Which of the Girls of St. Catherine's are you? Take the quiz!
Madeleine Hernandez as Greta
Emma Mercier as Marilyn
Scarlet Sheppard as Susan
Jessica Ma as Tamsin
Jenny Griffin as Anna
Chloe Wray Gonzalez as Lily
Luis Fernandez-Gil as Jamie/Mr. Reed
Sydney Ashe as Greta
Cameron Cipolla as Marilyn
Christina Burdette as Susan
Amber Li as Tamsin
Jessie Bias as Anna & Lily
Robert Paterno as Jamie/Mr. Reed
Produced for Sacred Fools by Jax Ball
Associate Producers - Jessie Bias & Suze Campagna
Stage Manager - Aaron Saldaña
Assitant Stage Manager - Sasha King
Lighting Design - Kaitlin D Chang
Set Design - Amanda Knehans
Costume Design - Nancy Dobbs Owen
Sound Design - Dennis Peraza
Prop Designer - Sam Squeri
Vocal Coach - Aviva Pressman
Dialect Coach - Tim Kopacz
Voice Over - Brenda Varda
Intimacy Coordinator - Jenifer Yeuroukis
Show Photography - Jessica Sherman Photography
Key Art - FLuX
- Sacred Fools Company Member
St. Catherine's Catholic girls' school is bringing back drama club - and the show must go on. But what if that means covering up a scandal that has the potential to ruin not only their production of Antigone, but the lives of teachers and students alike? Sacred Fools Theater Company's production of Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine's, is the West Coast premiere of Madhuri Shekar's play about friendship, first loves, and breaking the silence.
For the girls of St. Catherine's, the real drama is behind the scenes. Greta (Madeleine Hernandez) is playing Ismene, although she secretly wishes she was playing Antigone. Her best friend Marilyn is playing Antigone, but she's more interested in her charming and passionate drama teacher Mr. Reed (Luis Fernandez-Gil) than she is in the play. When Greta discovers a shocking secret, she must grapple with her own sense of morality and duty. Hernandez as Greta and Scarlet Sheppard as Susan - the head girl who is entrusted to protect her peers and help run the drama club - deliver the most grounded and nuanced performances... In Greta and Susan, we see the Greek tragedy play out. Do they stand up for what's right and risk everything, or swallow injustice in order to keep the peace?
...Temporally, the play is firmly in the 90s - think uniforms accessorized with scrunchies and the Spice Girls as transition music. This allows the relationships between the girls to unfold without the influence of social media, isolating them from the outside world.
...the problems of these high schoolers are emphatically depicted with appropriately high stakes, making the story feel gripping and engaging. The slow-burn revelation of the girls' secret is achingly frustrating, made even more painful with the realization that knowledge doesn't always equate to power in a battle against authority.
Ⓒ 2020 Stage Raw
COVID shut down this #MeToo play in L.A. How it's staging a comeback (or, 'Antigone' from stage to stream)
Madhuri Shekar's shuttered play at Sacred Fools gains new life online
The first weekend in March, the Sacred Fools theater company opened a #MeToo alarm blast of a play, but the show never made it to a second weekend.
That Thursday, city leaders responded to the emerging COVID-19 crisis by urging size limits on gatherings. Los Angeles theaters, including Sacred Fools' 96-seat venue in Hollywood, closed.
This Thursday will be happier. The West Coast premiere of "Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine's" is returning for four days, although in different form. It is now a Zoom reading that Sacred Fools is sharing at 5 p.m. on Facebook Live with text chat. The presentation will then be available through 5 p.m. Monday on Facebook Videos.
Onstage, a riveting young cast directed by Reena Dutt zigzagged from high-spiritedness to dread as they navigated a girls' school presentation of Sophocles' "Antigone" - a 2,460-year-old play about bucking a repressive, misogynistic system - that ever more disturbingly mirrors what's happening to the teenagers rehearsing it.
The play gained a jolt of relevance this week with the death of Mary Kay Letourneau, the Seattle-area elementary school teacher whose 1990s relationship with a student scandalized the nation.
But there had been plenty of momentum in March. The Dramatists Guild of America had just named playwright Madhuri Shekar the recipient of this year's Lanford Wilson Award for early-career writing, and her "Antigone," first presented in 2015, had been transformed in the intervening years by people speaking out worldwide against inappropriate sexual behavior.
I was reviewing the play, designating it a Times Critic's Choice, but the show closed before the piece could be published.
Now we all get to see "Antigone" anew. Dutt directs the original cast for the internet, with Aaron Saldana editing the recorded material. It's the first of three presentations in what Sacred Fools is calling its "Reprise" series of shows from the last year.
Commissioned by Atlanta's Alliance Theatre for its teen community program, "Antigone" unfolds in the mid-1990s among six students, ages 15 to 18, at a Catholic girls' boarding school and their male drama teacher, in his mid-40s.
Fittingly, the Sacred Fools cast is composed largely of performers not long out of drama school.
In the live March show, Madeleine Hernandez and Jessica Ma were particularly compelling as, respectively, a quiet overachiever and a surly rebel. Although the characters are in many ways opposites, the actresses underscored how similarly they are attuned to behavioral nuances and, hence, to disturbances in their ostensibly well ordered world.
Scarlet Sheppard, portraying the drama club president, came across as commandeering yet compassionate. And as the free-spirited 16-year-old at the story's center, Emma Mercier exuded the breathless anticipation of a young woman at the threshold of adulthood. Jenny Griffin and Chloe Wray Gonzalez provided comic relief as gossiping best friends.
Recorded away from the theater without benefit of the production's set or costumes, the video version must rely largely on the actors' interaction with computer cameras in their individual locations, says Dutt.
The screen layout is essentially the Zoom checkerboard of faces. Camera-on equals an entrance, camera-off an exit. Facial expressions - and responding to others through the webcam - become especially important, Dutt explains.
The stage production's sound design (by Dennis Peraza) - including use of '90s music to cover scene shifts - is intact. Still photography (by Jessica Sherman) will be displayed after scenes to show what they looked like onstage.
In Sophocles' play, the title character is swept up in a political maelstrom when she does something out of love. A situation at the school proves not dissimilar. Onstage, Dutt effectively tightened and released the story's tension, layering its ick factor amid steam bursts of apprehension-relieving laughter.
The girls' drama teacher has a gift for sensing what will motivate each young actor. Onstage, Luis Fernandez-Gil imbued him with the warm sensitivity that can make a teacher beloved, combined with charisma so irresistible that it hints at trouble.
The longer the pandemic continues, the less likely Sacred Fools will be able to resume a physical production of Shekar's play. Trying to capture at least some of the piece on video is a way "to honor those artists and the work we did," says the company's managing director, Padraic Duffy, and helps the organization stay connected to the public.
There's no charge for viewing, but donations will help the company to keep moving forward. "We're trying to not only survive as an organization, but also make sure that once we get to the other side of this that we're not so hobbled that we can't return to our missions," Duffy says.
"Antigone" turned out to be one of three main-stage productions of her plays shut down by COVID, along with "House of Joy" at San Diego Rep and the world premiere of "Dhaba on Devon Avenue" at Chicago's Victory Gardens. That experience devastated the postpartum new mom, but she says she's more worried about other emerging playwrights, especially those who are not white, cisgender men.
"If the pandemic had happened in February 2014, my two professional debuts would have been lost," she said by email. "My whole career might have been cut short, or radically redirected. ... How many brilliant careers by underrepresented artists are we losing?"
--Daryl H. Miller
Ⓒ 2020 L.A. Times