Charissa Menefee won second place in the Lightning Talk competition at ISU Faculty Research Day in March for her talk "Our Antigone: Adapting a Classic for Teens."
Menefee, associate professor in the Department of English, adapted Sophocles' Antigone for Story Theatre Company's teen theatre troupe by creating a framework story of students putting on a production of the classic play, which she rewrote in an elevated, yet contemporary style.
"This adaptation, because it was written especially for young people to perform, provides access to the story, its characters, and its ideas in a way that other translations or adaptations may not," Menefee said.
Her interest in the play dates back to her own time as a student performing scenes from Antigone. The play also highlights women's leadership, an area of research for Menefee. Theatre can be a way to engage young people in discussions about citizenship, participating in and safeguarding democracy, and the significance of their voices, she said.
"The title character's commitment to integrity over compromise is inspiring and affects other citizens, even though she doesn't survive to see that result," Menefee said. "The deeper I went into the play, the more engaged I became myself, and I hope that passion for the material comes through in the work."
The play will be made available to high schools, middle schools, and youth theatres.
"Future productions will introduce more students, as well as their audiences, to a classic play that has resonance and relevance in its call for active and responsible citizenship," she said.
As the second place winner of the lightning talk competition, Menefee will receive $200 of professional development funds.
"Summarizing an entire project in four minutes — something that has taken months and years of preparation, research, and writing — is a challenge," she said. "I'm so impressed by the incredible work that my colleagues are doing and appreciate the opportunity to hear about it."