Review: Borderlands Theaters’ Antigona 3.0

By Zoe Stover

PCC’s very own Professor Marc Pinate took the stage in Antigona 3.0! After a semester of Pinate giving me a taste of the performing arts in THE105, I was thrilled to see him direct and act in this production.

Antigona 3.0 was a bold choice. The story’s target audience is not the casual theatre viewer. An extensive background knowledge of the original Greek story and Borderlands Theaters’ spin-off is required to fully enjoy the show. The actors do mention the themes of the original tale in the very beginning, but it’s not deep enough to understand the symbolism embedded within the play. It’s disguised as a comedy bit, so the message is easily missed. If you haven’t seen Sophocles’ Antigone AND Borderlands’ Antigone at the Border, this show might not be for you, which is fine. Having a specific audience in mind when creating a show is expected, but this felt pretty niche.

Antigone at the Border took place online during the thick of the pandemic and was a beautiful reframing of the classic tale. This show maintains the themes of state law and moral law, but shifts the characters and setting to make a statement on humanitarian issues occurring on the US/Mexico Border. When I first saw the flyer about 3.0, I figured that’s what the new show would be; It would bring Antigone at the Border to its full glory and give it the production it deserves. 

That is not what Antigona 3.0 is about. This version is about a theater company receiving a grant for $100,000 to produce a show, and then they create a show about the process of making that show (confusing, I know). The 3.0 version sheds light on systemic racial issues within the entertainment industry told through personal stories of generational trauma.

While the plot is an acquired taste, the show’s strongest quality is the technical aspects. The stage was separated by a scrim, a fabric-like wall that can be opaque or translucent depending on lighting. They leveraged this prop by having the actors be visible behind the scrim so they are slightly obstructed while having conversations about how they might produce the show. A scrim can illude to the audience that they are not supposed to be included in the actors’ production conversations, a very effective choice to further the story and reinforce the theme of the interworkings of the production industry.

This scrim was also projected onto with mostly a pre-filmed B-plot that was entirely in Spanish. It did seem odd to me that only one scene included English subtitles, but an entire storyline didn’t. So not only do you need to see Antigone and Antigone at the Border, but you also need to be fluent in Spanish. 

But, I digress. Toward the end, they utilized the scrim for a Wheel of Fortune-type game in which I was chosen to participate in. In this game, another contestant and I got to spin the wheel to test our luck crossing the border. I lasted longer than my co-contender, but I still embarrassed myself with my 911 call. I didn’t describe my location with enough detail, so I unfortunately did not win. This added a mood lightener and embraced the postmodern dark humor vibe they were curating regarding the US/Mexico border and because of this, the production thrived in the technical aspect further.

The actual dialogue was funny and well-crafted. Most of the play felt like a genuine conversation and didn’t feel forced. They quickly established relationships using a scene where the characters celebrate receiving the largest grant of their careers by becoming overly intoxicated. While this efficiently built character connection, it felt gimmicky. Three actors sitting in a rehearsal room smoking weed and drinking feels possible, but it was the way they did it that felt clunky. The oversized neon bong was funny, but very much for show and not necessary.

Seeing my college professor smoke out of a bong and then blowing smoke rings was not on my 2024 bingo card. Cheap shots aside, The audience could feel the chemistry these actors had and I would like to believe they are actually friends.

Personally, my favorite scene overall was the three spoken words. Each actor got a moment to tell a short personal story and this is where the characters of Antigona 3.0 shined. They told stories from their own lives, but you can see how they translate to the original Greek characters.

Mylta, played by Milta Ortiz, told a story from her youth of being abandoned by her family and being treated less than. This caused so much resentment towards the system and how unfair it can be. Unintentionally or intentionally, this reminded me of Antigone as she struggled with being young, impulsive and infuriated about the societal issues she was facing.

Mark, played by Pinate, shared the story of how he was so blinded by corporate professionalism that he forgot to prioritize taking care of another human and giving someone he cared about the grace she deserved. This can tie into Creon’s character from the original. Creon is so consumed with upholding the law that he’s unable to see his family for the humans they are.

And finally we come to my favorite character, John, played by Jonathan Heras. In the story of Ismene, another character from the original play, she’s compliant with the ways of her family without forming her own opinion regarding what they’re doing. John’s story is about his family name and how he used it to get away with whatever he wanted, unaware of why they earned those privileges. He could see the path he was going down and decided to turn back before it was too late. Both characters have the perspective of a family bystander witnessing long feuds, revenge and murder.

These spoken words are where the heart of the production could be felt the most. These stories made me reflect on my own life and I’m still unsure if I fully grasped it. That’s why they are my favorite. Art is supposed to challenge what you think you know.

Antigona 3.0 was so clearly a labor of love and despite my qualms with the storyline, it’s still a great show of self-expression, tackling difficult themes with a wide range of mediums and unique technical aspects.

Overall, I would go see another show produced by Borderlands Theater.