Belladina Starr and Rudy Trevino share a moment during rehearsals (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

When the curtain rises on McNary High School’s production of Antigone next week, actor Ricardo Jimenez doesn’t want it to fall without jerking a tear or two.

“There are some moments where you might laugh, but it’s about life and death. It’s a tragedy,” Jimenez said.

The plays unfolds in the wake of a civil war in which two brothers died. Their uncle orders a hero’s’ funeral for one while the other will be buried unremarkably. Their sister, the titular Antigone, must decide how she will respond to the orders. It’s an updated version of the Greek play by Sophocles.

For Belladina Starr, who plays Antigone, the role spoke to her deeply and immediately. She was given the script last year by director Dallas Myers to research a monologue.

“Within the first three pages, I wanted to play Antigone,” Starr said. “She stands up for what she believes in, it’s true to myself. If you believe in something you need to stand up and be true to yourself.”

While the play revolves around Antigone’s decision, it’s Jimenez who shoulders the lion’s share of the plays dialogue, about 70 percent of it, by Myers’ calculations.

Members of the Chorus wait for their cues. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

The Chorus, traditionally played by 1-3 people, is tackled by a group of 10 Celtic actors who take on a role much more interactive that what was originally prescribed in the script. The Chorus actors frequently adjust their position on the stage and provide sound effects and an ethereal presence that gave the play eerie, forboding undertones during rehearsals.

“It’s interesting to see how people say things in different patterns and how we have to adjust to meet each other,” said Carina Myrand.

While the Chorus roles require an extrasensory perception of where everyone is on the stage, it’s also provided time for reflection of the diverse themes of the script, said Tracie Burich.

“While I’m sitting, I listen to the dialogue. There’s a lot of interesting and complex themes. It’s a deep and interesting play,” she said.

Evoking that complexity in a performance is the biggest challenge for first-time actors Rudy Trevino, as Haemon, and Megan Demagalski, as Anigone’s nurse.

“I didn’t realize it was going to take as much as it does,” Demagalski said.

“I’ve been surprised at how much it takes of yourself to be a character,” Trevino added. “The emotions these characters are feeling are real, they can’t be faked.  They need to come from someplace real. I have the lines memorized, but I need to feel them and it’s translated into my life and music [interests] because it’s about integrity.”

McNary’s run of Antigone begins Thursday, Nov. 10 at McNary and continues Nov. 11-12 and 17-19. Curtain time is 7 p.m. for all shows. Tickets are $5 in advance or at the door.