Elon University’s winter play, Annie Baker’s “The Antipodes,” opened Jan. 20 and will have a total of nine showings through Feb. 4 in Roberts Studio Theatre.
“The Antipodes” follows a group of writers trying to figure out what story to tell — prompting each other with personal questions, sharing anecdotes, drinking LaCroix and navigating the pressures of deadlines and the legacies of past successful projects.
Freshman Owen Parker is a member of the production’s dramaturg team and said one thing that sets “The Antipodes” apart from other Elon shows is the way it pushes audience members to think critically about what’s being revealed and how the art audiences engage with have impacted them.
“When you're there, you are taking in information. And you're really thinking about the material, which I think is ultimately more interesting than sitting back and enjoying a show,” Parker said.
According to the production’s dramaturgy website, some of the antipodes — or exact opposites — explored in the show include “Formula vs. Freedom,” “Commercial pressures vs. Creativity,” “Work vs. Leisure” and “Power vs. Impotence.”
In his director’s note, English professor Scott Proudfit wrote that the cast and crew focused on three guiding questions during the rehearsal process: “What is the point of telling stories when the world is crumbling around you?” “Can we resist overemployment?” and “Who gets to tell whose story?”
“There are always emails to answer, texts to send, content to create,” Proudfit wrote. “And those in the creative industries may feel more sharply the pressure of overemployment because they are regularly told (and usually deeply feel) how lucky they are to be doing this work.”
Parker said, especially with social media, the play’s theme of turning personal experiences into content encourages the audience to reflect on their own lives and the way they connect with the people around them.
Working on “The Antipodes” has also changed Parker’s approach to storytelling, who was used to performing on stage prior to attending Elon as an arts administration major.
“Being able to do this approach to the arts and still love it as much as performing on stage has been very eye opening,” Parker said. “To be like, ‘Oh, this is so fun to be behind the table’ and I still feel like I'm part of the show.”
With a nine-person cast, the show is set around a conference table and has audience seating on two sides.
There will be 2 p.m. showings on Jan. 20, Jan. 21, Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 and 7:30 p.m. showings on Jan. 20, Jan. 22, Jan. 23, Feb. 2 and Feb. 3.
Tickets for “The Antipodes” can be reserved online and are $15 at the door or free with an Elon ID.