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Seeking Director for Workshop Reading of a Modern Adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone

Please submit a CV via email to Michael Vinson, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for an interview with your contact information. Thanks for reading this.

Director needed for a seated reading of The Rebel Girl and the Broken King: A Modern Adaptation of Sophocles' Antigone. The script is 71 pages, and has eight speaking roles. The reading director is responsible for casting the readers (including a reader for stage directions if desired). Three seated readings are envisioned; the first two on one day with a break, and the third one a week later or so. The reading space and refreshments for the actors will be provided by the playwright. A collaborative attitude and good organizational abilities required of the reading director.

The following is a summary of the play.

Sophocles was not the first to retell the myth of Antigone, though his version is one of the only ones that has survived. It is interesting that this myth first emerges in the 5th century BCE, around the same time that the Athenians and other Greek cities were embracing the idea of a democratic government, led by citizens instead of kings. The story of Antigone’s rebellion, even though more than 2,500 years old, is still very relevant and continues to inspire political and humanitarian retellings. Some recent examples of this are the brilliant and terse drama by Irish Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney: The Burial at Thebes: A Version of Sophocles’ Antigone (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005) which was partly inspired, as he notes, by President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Another Irish writer, Connall Morrison, has set the tragedy of Antigone within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Ariel Sharon as Creon and the Israeli public as the Chorus, set after the Six Day War in 1967. Bertolt Brecht’s version (first performed in 1948) was an indictment of the Nazis, while the Puerto Rican playwright Luis Rafael Sanchez wrote a version of Antigone based on the life of a Puerto Rican political activitist, La pasión según Antígona Pérez (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Cultural, 2000). One interpretative version, which was an indictment of South African apartheid, was co-authored by Athol Fugard. The Island is set in a prison for political prisoners, Robben Island; two inmates, one playing Creon and the other, Antigone, are preparing one night for a performance for the prisoners the next day. More recently, the Women’s Project production of The Antigone Project: A Play in Five Parts (Southgate, Ca.: No Passport Press, 2009) has one act interpretations of parts of the story of Antigone by Tanya Barfield, Karen Hartman, Chiori Miyagawa, Lynn Nottage and Caridad Svich; the introduction to that edition by classics and theatre scholar Marianne McDonald is particularly illuminating.

This adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone is a search for a cultural and religious context which honors the spirit and times of Sophocles’ drama, while trying to make it more approachable to modern readers. For those purists who are seeking a word-for-word translation, this is not it (though there are many excellent translations, noted at the end of this essay). In fact, while some of the basic bones of the plot remain, the rest of the cadaver has had some fairly radical surgery. One of the challenges for modern readers is that the Greek tradition of the gods was largely abandoned by Constantine in the fourth century CE; since then, and for nearly two thousand years, those of us who have inherited the Western European tradition have had a Judeo-Christian mythology, which now seems largely irrelevant to many modern readers.

I have tried in this retelling of the story of Antigone to replace the mythos of Greek gods with our own mythological Judeo-Christian tradition, while retaining similar mythic characters. In addition, I have tried to imbue the characters who appear one dimensional in many versions (Ismene, Eurydice and Tiresias) as more complex. So Tiresias, instead of being an oracle or prophet for the Gods, is now the modern equivalent--a political consultant and pollster with a family connection to Creon through Eurydice. Ismene, instead of being just a loyal sister forced to choose between Antigone or Creon, becomes here a challenge to Antigone. Eurydice and Haemon are similarly fleshed out and given, I hope, real challenges for their characters.

As far as the core concept of the play, I have tried to take what was shocking to an ancient Greek audience (that Creon would not even allow the burial of a political opponent, and in this case one that was from his city and was a family relation), and find something equally shocking and horrifying to a modern audience. This is why I chose to represent Polynices as a ‘desaparecido’ (one whose death is not acknowledged by the state) with the equally confusing status that imposes on his loved ones (Did he run away? Is he dead? Can you have a memorial service without a body?). Some recent Argentinian dramatic productions of Antigone have incorporated this theme, the desaparecidos, into the story of Antigone (see, for example, Griselda Gambaro’s Antigona Furiosa and Jorge Huerta’s Antigonas: Linaje de Hembras).

I have been helped immensely in my script by those who have translated Antigone’s struggle against Creon before me. The following have been particularly useful to me for understanding the Greek original. Robert Fagles’ literary translation, The Three Theban Plays (New York and London: Penguin Books, 1984), has been justifiably acclaimed for the beauty of his prose. A more conservative but fluid take on the translation is the approach by Paul Woodruff in Antigone (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2001), which also has very useful notes and bibliography. Hugh Lloyd-Jones translation, Antigone (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998, Loeb Classical Library vol. 21), embraces some modern elements of scholarship while keeping a literal style in Sophocles.

The scholarship on Antigone has a honored tradition to follow. An outstanding early work is Sir Richard C. Jebb's The Antigone of Sophocles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1900), which is exceptionally useful for its notes, while one modern scholarly and technical study (while not a translation) is that by Mark Griffith for the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics, Sophocles: Antigone (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). I highly recommend his very useful textual apparatus and overview of scholarship. I have relied on Liddel and Scott’s 9th Edition of the Greek English Lexicon for understanding and context of the Greek original. Timothy Grantz’s Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993) is a wonderfully detailed background source on the Greek myths.


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