Ancient Theatre, Sunday 12 August @ 9.30pm
Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles written in or before 441 BC. The play expands on the Theban legend that predated it and picks up where Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes ends.
Adaptation and direction by Massimo Venturiello
with: Giulia Sanna, Ludovica Bove, Stefano De Santis, Francesco Patané, Carla Cassola, Andrea Monno, Franco Silvestri, Andrea Colangelo, Angelo Tanzi, Giuseppe Spezia
Scenes: Alessandro Chiti
Costumes: Helga Williams
Musics: Germano Mazzocchetti
TICKETS on boxol.it
Stalls (Parterre): € 20,00
Gallery (central): € 20,00
Upper circle (numbered seats): € –
Upper circle (non-numbered seats): € –
Prior to the beginning of the play, brothers Eteocles and Polyneices, leading opposite sides in Thebes’ civil war, died fighting each other for the throne. Creon, the new ruler of Thebes, brother of the former Queen Jocasta, has decided that Eteocles will be honored and Polyneices will be in public shame. The rebel brother’s body will not be sanctified by holy rites and will lie unburied on the battlefield, prey for carrion animals like worms and vultures, the harshest punishment at the time. Antigone and Ismene are the sisters of the dead Polyneices and Eteocles. In the opening of the play, Antigone brings Ismene outside the palace gates late at night for a secret meeting: Antigone wants to bury Polyneices’ body, in defiance of Creon’s edict. Ismene refuses to help her, not believing that it will actually be possible to bury their brother, who is under guard, but she is unable to stop Antigone from going to bury her brother herself.
Antigone’s family tree Creon enters, along with the Chorus of Theban Elders. He seeks their support in the days to come and in particular, wants them to back his edict regarding the disposal of Polyneices’ body. The Leader of the Chorus pledges his support out of deference to Creon. A Sentry enters, fearfully reporting that the body has been given funeral rites and a symbolic burial with a thin covering of earth, though no one saw who had actually committed the crime. Creon, furious, orders the Sentry to find the culprit or face death himself. The Sentry leaves, and the Chorus sings about honouring the gods, but after a short absence, he returns, bringing Antigone with him. The Sentry explains that the watchmen uncovered Polyneices’ body and then caught Antigone as she did the funeral rituals. Creon questions her after sending the Sentry away, and she does not deny what she has done. She argues unflinchingly with Creon about the immorality of the edict and the morality of her actions. Creon becomes furious, and, thinking Ismene must have known of Antigone’s plan, seeing her upset, summons the girl. Ismene tries to confess falsely to the crime, wishing to die alongside her sister, but Antigone will not have it. Creon orders that the two women be temporarily imprisoned.
Haemon, Creon’s son, enters to pledge allegiance to his father, even though he is engaged to Antigone. He initially seems willing to forsake Antigone, but when Haemon gently tries to persuade his father to spare Antigone, claiming that ‘under cover of darkness the city mourns for the girl’, the discussion deteriorates, and the two men are soon bitterly insulting each other. When Creon threatens to execute Antigone in front of his son, Haemon leaves, vowing never to see Creon again.
Creon decides to spare Ismene and to bury Antigone alive in a cave. By not killing her directly, he hopes to pay the minimal respects to the gods. She is brought out of the house, and this time, she is sorrowful instead of defiant. She expresses her regrets at not having married and dying for following the laws of the gods. She is taken away to her living tomb, with the Leader of the Chorus expressing great sorrow for what is going to happen to her.
Tiresias, the blind prophet, enters. Tiresias warns Creon that Polyneices should now be urgently buried because the gods are displeased, refusing to accept any sacrifices or prayers from Thebes. Creon accuses Tiresias of being corrupt. Tiresias responds that because of Creon’s mistakes, he will lose “a son of [his] own loins” for the crimes of leaving Polyneices unburied and putting Antigone into the earth (he does not say that Antigone should not be condemned to death, only that it is improper to keep a living body underneath the earth). All of Greece will despise Creon, and the sacrificial offerings of Thebes will not be accepted by the gods. The Leader of the Chorus, terrified, asks Creon to take Tiresias’ advice to free Antigone and bury Polyneices. Creon assents, leaving with a retinue of men. The Chorus delivers a choral ode to the god Dionysus (god of wine and of the theater; this part is the offering to their patron god). A Messenger enters to tell the Leader of the Chorus that Antigone has killed herself. Eurydice, Creon’s wife and Haemon’s mother, enters and asks the Messenger to tell her everything. The Messenger reports that Creon saw to the burial of Polyneices. When Creon arrived at Antigone’s cave, he found Haemon lamenting over Antigone, who had hanged herself. After unsuccessfully attempting to stab Creon, Haemon stabbed himself. Having listened to the Messenger’s account, Eurydice disappears into the palace.
Creon enters, carrying Haemon’s body. He understands that his own actions have caused these events and blames himself. A Second Messenger arrives to tell Creon and the Chorus that Eurydice has killed herself. With her last breath, she cursed her husband. Creon blames himself for everything that has happened, and, a broken man, he asks his servants to help him inside. The order he valued so much has been protected, and he is still the king, but he has acted against the gods and lost his children and his wife as a result. After Creon condemns himself, the Leader of the Chorus closes by saying that although the gods punish the proud, punishment brings wisdom.