After making her film debut in Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil, Hackney’s Savannah Gordon-Liburd is forging ahead in her acting career. This month she will be prowling the stage as the complex titular character in Roy Williams’ daring contemporary production of Sophocles’ Antigone, in the last leg of its UK tour at Theatre Royal Stratford East.
Writer Roy Williams has described this production as “a play for today’s streets”. Do you think that it is relevant to audiences?
It’s very relevant to London – topics that are played out in the production are really relatable to young people especially. It’s a modern reworking of an ancient story, in a way that’s easy to understand.
How does Williams’ vision play into Marcus Romer’s direction of your character?
Roy has given Antigone a new lease of life. Although she has the same essence as the original, it’s a completely new piece. Marcus encourages input from actors, and lets us make the words our own. It really is a breath of fresh air. The way Roy writes is very natural, which allows me to play Tig freely.
Antigone is an incredibly headstrong character. Does that resonate with you?
I grew up very differently from Tig, although Roy saw qualities in me that are in her too. I’m confident and not a follower, so I’ve put myself in her shoes. You could say I’ve taken my personality and put it into her.
Antigone so far has had some stellar reviews – does that put you under pressure as an actor?
People have loved it! They’ve said they’ve never seen anything like it, which is great feedback. I’m really excited to be on stage in London, but it’s nerve-wracking doing it at home in front of friends and family. After performing the same piece for so long, you just want it to be new and fresh and amazing for every new audience.
Do you think this production will bring in new audiences?
This is a big thing for us: a lot of young people don’t think theatre is for them, particularly when it’s something like Antigone, a Greek play that’s so ancient. But schools have come in and said it’s the best thing, which is great. There’s a lot of comedy in it, as well as darkness, and it’s so relatable. It’s not a typical production, so hopefully it will open up a realm of exciting theatre for young people especially.
Where do you think this role will take you next?
I’ve got no idea what’s next! I’m hoping that I can go on to bigger things, as I want to make my career out of this. Antigone is my fourth tour since 2011, it’s what I know. I love TV too and want to do film, so I hope that it’s up from here – fingers crossed!
Antigone is at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, E15 1BN from 19 February – 14 March