With four remaining performances Feb. 2 to 4, Elon University’s winter play “The Antipodes” asks audience members to reflect on how stories and storytelling shape the human perspective.
Set in a writers’ room, Annie Baker’s “The Antipodes” follows a group of creatives striving to work together and come up with the perfect story, the next big hit. In a previous interview with Elon News Network, freshman Owen Parker described the show as a think piece.
“Let yourself take in the show itself. Enjoy it but also be thinking,” Parker said. “I want your own interpretation of how the stories are being told. I honestly feel like seeing it more than once is going to make an impact.”
Senior Conrad Hall plays Sandy, who is in charge of the writers’ room. While trying to motivate the team, Sandy tells them, “the rest of the world might be going to hell, but stories are better than ever.” The play made its original debut in 2017, but junior Niklas Salah said this sentiment is still relevant in 2024.
“It's a little bit crude. It's also a little bit true,” Salah said. “Stories reflect the times and I think sometimes when things are so bad, the only thing we can do is tell stories to liberate ourselves.”
Salah plays Danny M2, one of the writers in the show, and said “The Antipodes” was one of the most “artistically and academically fulfilling” productions he has been a part of.
“A big question we asked in the table work for the show is ‘Why should we care about theater when the world is falling apart?’ And I think the answer is we do theater because the world is falling apart. Because theater is like a mirror reflecting our society,” Salah said. “It is all about commentary on the current political and social state of the world.”
As a part of the dramaturg team, Parker researched different elements of the show and its setting to help the actors and audience members better connect with Baker’s work and message — including by creating interactive displays in the lobby.
“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.”
Unlike Salah, Parker said he hadn’t heard of the show before seeing it on the Elon lineup. Now, Parker said “The Antipodes” is his favorite production he has worked on.
Salah said he was grateful to be part of a production where the cast was encouraged to bring their own nuance and perspectives to their roles. When describing Danny M2, a character who eventually leaves Sandy’s writing room, Salah said the role taught him about finding power in softness and beauty in the mundane.
“What makes him stand out from everyone in this room — and ultimately why he has to leave — is he refuses to commodify these deep, sometimes traumatizing and very personal stories from his life,” Salah said.
Salah said he hopes audience members leave with an understanding of Danny M2, but also think critically about the other characters and how their narratives, identity and humanity are explored throughout the play.
“I hope that they kind of question their sense of what good storytelling is,” Salah said. “I think everyone is just, at the end of the day, trying to find the right story.”
Tickets for “The Antipodes” can be reserved online and are $15 or free with an Elon ID. The remaining shows are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 3 and Feb. 4. The play has a runtime of two hours with no intermission and is located in Roberts Studio Theatre.