Antonia by José Casas
Directed by Xanthia Walker
Playwright José Casas, director Xanthia Angel Walker, and choreographer Melissa Britt worked with Danny “Skooby” Morales of Cyphers and dozens of hip hop artists of all ages to develop the play, which is an adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy Antigone. Both the playwright and director felt that the themes of Antigone, including power, fate vs. free will, rules vs. order, and gender dynamics were relatable to hip hop culture as it relates to young people. The five elements of hip hop (Breaking, MCing, Graffiti, DJing and Knowledge/Understanding) all play a role in the storytelling.
Playwright José Casas explains that “The success of a TYA hip-hop performance is dependent on a communal form of dramaturgy that is similar to hip-hop’s cypher, or artistic gathering.” Accordingly, the way Rising Youth Theatre developed the play included multiple workshops with hip hop artists in the community and young people who participate in Cyphers programming helped to determine the direction of the script. The resulting play is one that speaks to a wide range of experiences within the hip hop community.