Nyack: Recalling Mandela's stage role that presaged presidency
Robert Brum Updated 3058 p.m. ET Feb. 5, 2019
Bill Batson, artist-in-residence at Nyack's Farmer's Market, talks about his role at the weekly market, and the Nov. 27 book launch at Hudson House. Peter D. Kramer, email@example.com
NYACK - In the late 1960s, apartheid-era prisoners in South Africa's notorious Robben Island prison staged a production of Sophoclesʼ tragedy, "Antigone."
The cast included a freedom fighter named Nelson Mandela, playing King Creon, a prescient role for the man who would become his country's first democratically elected president.
The staging of the tragedy and its overtones of the prisoners' struggle for freedom are captured in a drama by playwright Samuel Harps that is being staged this month in Nyack.
"Antigone on Robben island: Mandela Takes the Stage," explores how humans, in the most difficult circumstances, reconcile fidelity to self, family, government, and social justice movements, according to the producers, " It was Antigone who symbolized our struggle; she was, in her own way, a freedom fighter, for she defied the law on the grounds that it was unjust,"
Mandela wrote of the playʼs heroine.
Harps realized that "Antigone" was the perfect play to be staged on Robben Island because of its themes of political struggle and loyalty to country.
The staging at the Nyack Center includes a prologue by artist and author
"Mandela is the perfect historic figure to contemplate during Black History Month, because he demonstrates that a racist system as entrenched and
evil as apartheid can be dismantled by freedom-loving men and women as
long as you keep the faith, and your principles." said Batson, who coproduced the play with Janey Tannenbaum.
The production marks the 20th year for Shades Repertory Theater, which
Harps created to present reimagined classics and the works of emerging
Harps interned at New Yorkʼs New Dramatists, studying with noted
playwrights August Wilson, John Patrick Shanley, and Charles Oyamo Gordon. He was later accepted into the Negro Ensemble Company playwrights program and the National Black Theater.
Harpsʼ first major production, "Don't Explain," about the death of trumpeter Lee Morgan, was staged at New Yorkʼs Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
If you go
What: "Antigone on Robben Island: Mandela Takes the Stage"
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 8
Where: Nyack Center, 58 Depew Ave., Nyack
Tickets: $22 in advance; $25 at the door. Available
Other performances: 8 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16
Where: Garnerville Arts Center, 55 West Railroad Ave., Garnerville
Tickets: $18 for students and advanced purchase, $20 general admission: Shades Repertory Theater, firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-675-8044
Left to right: Keith Bulluck (as Nelson Mandela), Kevin Barksdake, Steve Allen (kneeling) and
John DeBlasio from the production of "Antigone on Robben Island: Nelson Mandela Takes
the Stage." (Photo: Contributed)
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