The UNCG theatre department is starting its Spring season of shows with “Antigone”, an ancient Greek tragedy written by Sophocles. This play is apart of the “War and Peace Imagined” theme of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
It starts with the end of a brutal, bloody battle between the neighboring Grecian cities, Thebes and Argos. Although this play was written when dates were being counted down instead of up, it is still very relatable to us today.
This story is a sequel to the infamous tale of Oedipus Rex. For those of you who may not know or do not remember, Oedipus Rex is a play about a man who comes to Thebes to liberate the people from a sphinx. He succeeds and marries the Queen of the city, Jocasta. Some time goes by and a prophet comes to tell Oedipus that he has married his mother and killed his Father in the trip to Thebes. Oedipus and Jocasta during this time had children, one of those being Antigone. Antigone takes place a few years after this and at this point all the children of Oedipus and Jocasta have grown up. Both Oedipus and Jocasta are dead and it is up to the ill-fated children of incest to rule the city of Thebes.
Antigone’s two older brothers Eteocles and Polynices, (yes, I know it’s very Greek just try your best) had joint rule over Thebes until Polynices married a women of Argos who convinced him to go to war with his brother in order to achieve sole power over Thebes. A battle broke out between the brothers and the armies of both cities and both brothers were killed by the other. This is very point at which the play Antigone starts, the two brothers of Antigone have been killed and their uncle Creon is appointed as king of Thebes. The city is glad that the battle is over and that Creon, a man of mature judgment, is now in power, but they are all still grieving the loss of the brothers and the other soldiers that died in battle.
Some helpful information before going to this production is that this production is a modern interpretation, it does not take place in ancient Thebes. However, it doesn’t take place in completely modern times either.
This production has the setting of the Iraq war but with a hint of ancient sensibilities. There is a cabinet of senators, which is the chorus, but the idea of a King is still in place and he has ultimate power over the city-state. There is also this mythological element that there is something bigger going on that people cannot control. This brings up the most important piece of advice: RESEARCH.
I know we are in school and the idea of learning something that isn’t due on canvas at midnight seems trivial, but a quick wikipedia search of Greek gods will be enough. Otherwise, a lot of what the chorus is talking about and how the characters are being driven will be unclear. The characters mention Zeus, who is a very popular god, but also familiarize yourself with gods such as Dionysus, Bacchus, Hades, Aphrodite, and Persephone.
This play is a good representation of the repercussions of war and how a community has to rebuild after a physically and emotionally difficult battle. It shows the dangers of a leader that desires power above all else. It explores the idea of man’s law versus god’s law and what happens when the law and the convictions of the people do not coincide. With the political climate we are in today, this play is very relatable to today. The play follows a headstrong girl, Antigone, who challenges the rule of the king Creon and confidently stands up for what she believes is right. This play is of course a tragedy and so don’t go in expecting a happy ending but it’s subject matter is deep and truthful to the world we are in today.
The play opens February 16 and runs through February 26. Tickets are $9 with a student ID. Be sure to check out this classical, jarring story and support your fellow UNCG students.