Antigone in the Voice of Mediterranean Youth

Miroslav Minić

Literature teacher, secondary school in Danilovgrad, Montenegro

The project “Antigone 2.0 Mediterranean” is a story about educational and theatre innovation based on an idea by the teacher Miroslav Minić that arose during literature classes at the secondary school in Danilovgrad, a city in Montenegro. It is also a story about the Mediterranean Citizens’ Assembly Foundation, which resulted in a youth project that managed to connect several shores, five countries, around ten schools, and teachers and students from all over the Mediterranean basin. Over seventy students together with their teachers wrote texts inspired by the Sophocles classic and created their Antigones in plays from Podgorica and Valencia to Oran, Rabat, Asilah, Nador and Beirut. Despite the pandemic and isolation, the voice of young people, which is so important, was heard throughout the Mediterranean. They were concerned about the same issues, regardless of their differences. For nine months, the rehearsals were recorded and interviews were conducted with all the participants. The result is the documentary Antigone 2.0 Méditerranée, screened in different festivals in the region and witness to this teaching innovation initiative.

In a School in Montenegro…

The secondary school in Danilovgrad, a small town in Montenegro, has been known for many years for its extracurricular activities, which encourage and develop interest, curiosity, independence and creativity outside the framework of regular teaching and in a manner that addresses students’ psychophysical ability. For years, plays, exhibitions, short films, and so on, have been produced, and its students have participated in numerous contests. And in 2014, the school received the highest state recognition for education: the Oktoih Award.

In early 2020, the students wanted to create a new play. Their literature teacher, the journalist Miroslav Minić, brought them together, and they began to think about what they wanted to tackle.

Around this time the call for the first Dialogue 2020 Secondary School Theatre Festival had just been launched, organised by the mixed secondary school in Golubovci with the support of the Ministry of Education of Montenegro. The rules of the contest required the participants to write an original play. The students and teacher embarked on the adventure of developing it through numerous workshops and very soon a real creative energy began to emerge. In their literature classes they had been analysing the classic heroes for a long time and never stopped looking for parallels with their true heroes of today. One of the most important plays in world literature is undoubtedly Sophocles’ Antigone, written in the 5th century BC, which today continues to be relevant everywhere and fully engages with the audience. In the workshops, the teacher proposed a discussion about the characters in Sophocles’ tragedy, their decisions and actions, tragic heroes and guilt… As the conditions of the contest required an original play, they decided that each student, with the help of a teacher as mentor, would write their own story, their own reflections inspired by Antigone. Each student told an authentic story: thus, problems emerged including peer violence or bullying, the position of women, discrimination, environmental pressure, young people leaving the country, the omnipresent kitsch… Through the piece, they created a story about apathy, mentality, humanity and identity.

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