Front-line nurses star in online staging of play ‘Antigone’

Zoom project by and for nurses features professional actors and chorus of front-line nurses

Sophocles had no idea when he wrote “Antigone” 2,500 years ago that it would be a vehicle for nurses to share what they’ve experienced during a worldwide pandemic. But that’s what will happen Thursday.

The social-justice troupe Theater of War Productions hopes the play can spark a lively, post-reading online discussion by invited nurses about their profession, the Associated Press reported.

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“I’ve been a nurse for decades, and I’ve never seen the kind of suffering of my profession as I’ve seen during COVID,” Dr. Cynda Rushton, a professor of nursing at Johns Hopkins University and a lead consultant on the project, told the AP. “One goal is to be able to give voice to the experience of nurses during this time as we try to think about how do we move forward.”

A groundbreaking project by and for nurses, The Nurse Antigone presents dramatic readings of Sophocles’ play on Zoom — featuring professional actors and a chorus of front-line nurses — to help frame powerful, guided discussions about the unique challenges faced by nurses before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re trying to seed the ground so that the focus of both the performance and the discussion is on really the moral suffering of nurses,” artistic director Bryan Doerries told the AP. “Our model isn’t about fixing meaning or interpretation to the play in advance. Our model is about honoring the infinite possibilities and interpretations in each audience each time we do it.”

“Antigone” is about a young woman who puts everything on the line to do what she believes is right, and dramatizes the heavy cost of silencing and marginalizing caregivers, especially during times of crisis. “By performing Sophocles’ play for diverse audiences, including nurses as well as concerned citizens, The Nurse Antigone aims to generate compassion, awareness, connection and much-needed healing, while celebrating and advocating for nurses at this critical juncture in the history of their profession,” the project wrote on its Eventbrite page.

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The performance will feature Margaret Atwood, Tracie Thoms (”Rent”), Taylor Schilling (”Orange is the New Black”), Ato Blankson-Wood (”Detroit”), Bill Camp (”The Queen’s Gambit”), Charlaine Lasse (registered nurse, IV therapy, Neonatal Intensive Care), Amy Smith (nurse practitioner, Northwell Health, Hofstra University), Aliki Argiropoulos (nurse Clinician II, Blood and Marrow Transplant, Oncology Critical Care, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Johns Hopkins Hospital) and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

The Nurse Antigone will take place 5-7 p.m. March 17 on Zoom and can be accessed on personal devices. The event Zoom link will be distributed via email and available to registered attendees. There is no cost for the performance, and you can register here.

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