In her article, “La obra ‘Antígona frente al mar’ presenta el duelo colectivo del huracán María” (El Nuevo Día) Damaris Hernández Mercado reviews “Antígona frente al mar” [Antigone Facing the Sea], a play written and directed by Isabel Ramos. Hernández Mercado explains that this theatrical piece, which premieres this weekend at the Arsenal de la Marina Española (La Puntilla) in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, presents the collective mourning of Hurricane María. The play will be on stage for two weekends: March 17-19 and March 24-26. [For tickets, see PRTICKET.com. See more information below.]
Puerto Rico is a “before and after” Hurricane María. The more than 3.3 million inhabitants that the island had on that [fated] September 20, 2017, lost something or someone directly or indirectly through the devastation and scourge of the atmospheric phenomenon. The National Hurricane Center updated the number of deaths from María’s passage through Puerto Rico to 2,975 in 2023. The center accepted the conclusions of a study conducted by the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health.
The play “Antígona frente al mar,” which premieres on March 17 in the 60th edition of the Puerto Rican Theater Festival, invites reflections of that post-María collective mourning. The piece will be presented outdoors at the historic Spanish Navy Arsenal in the “La Puntilla” section of Old San Juan.
The play, written by Isabel Ramos, is an adaptation of the Greek literary myth’, Sophocles’ “Antigone,” whose characters and plot inspired her to embody the mourning and loss that Puerto Ricans suffered as a result of Hurricane María. Ramos was one of the thousands of Puerto Ricans who lost a parent to the consequences of the hurricane on the island. The playwright’s father passed away 40 days after the hurricane.
For her, writing the piece was an emotional catharsis, according to the actress Kisha Tikina Burgos, who also plays the character of Antigone. “Isabel lost her father to Hurricane María. We all directly or indirectly lost someone to the hurricane, either because they died or had to leave the island due to the lack of services. It was a process of catharsis and healing for her. “Antigone” is the mythological story with which Isabel wanted to start out, since what Antigone addressed—the struggle between the living and the dead and between human and divine laws—seemed perfect to her,” explained the actress who helped review Ramos’ script, at the request of the playwright.
In “Antígona frente al mar,” produced by Ágora Teatro, “Antígona” fights to bury her dead brother whom Creón, a tyrannical and inexperienced ruler, has forbidden to bury. Thebes is a coastal city, divided by political conflicts. The gods, tired of seeing their land corrupted, send a great storm as punishment and the city, which suffers great losses, is plunged into a cloud of total darkness. Presenting the work outdoors in the Arsenal de la Marina, facing the sea, in Old San Juan is ideal for the development of the story since “we wanted to keep the water in mind,” Burgos mentioned.
“During my mourning process, when the government categorically denied the crisis that was costing thousands of lives, I felt like Antigone. Our dead had been buried, but they had not received the honors or been recognized,” the director said in written statements.
Actress [Kisha Tikina Burgos], on her part, clarified that although she did not have a close death in her family, “I mourn my country and all the people who were greatly affected.”
“Mourning is also there for all those who left [the island]. That image is very present, and it upset us all, and in all sectors. Collective work was affected, families were affected, and many people thought they would return but they have not been able to because the country is under reconstruction. We also saw this with [Hurricane] Fiona; the country is very fragile. I reiterate all of this, so, when Isabel invited me to be Antigone and to be part of the creative process, I couldn’t say no; she compels us all,” added the actress, who underlines that her biggest acting challenge in the play is “to do classical theater.”
The cast of “Antígona frente al mar” is made up of Burgos, Julio Ramos, Anoushka Medina, Eric Yamil Cruz, Thaimy Reyes, Orlando Rodríguez, and Viviana Torres Mestey. The choreography is by Jeanne D’Arc Casas and the musical direction is by Javier Villar (Tambora Zen).
Translated by Ivette Romero. For original article (in Spanish) and more photos, see https://www.elnuevodia.com/entretenimiento/cultura/notas/la-obra-antigona-frente-al-mar-presenta-el-duelo-colectivo-del-huracan-maria/
For tickets, go to PRTICKET.com or call (787) 200-7110.
Director: Isabel Ramos
Cast: Kisha Tikina Burgos Sierra, Anoushka Medina, Viviana Torres Mestey, Eric Yamil, Orlando Rodríguez, and Thaimy Reyes Diaz
Choreography: Jeanne D’ Arc Casas
Music: Javier Villar Rosa
Lights: Jorge Ramírez
Wardrobe: Gladyris Silva
Props: Elixander Negrón Negrón