OPUS, the Long Road Level 3 Performing Arts Diploma, theatre company, performed a thrilling production of Sophocles’ Antigone at the end of last term. The play follows on from Oedipus, in which Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother (Jocasta). They have four children, Polynices, Eteocles, Antigone and Ismene. After all this is revealed, Jocasta hangs herself, and Oedipus uses the pins from her gown to poke out his eyes.
As Antigone opens, we learn that Polynices and Eteocles have fought to the death. Polynices had returned to Thebes to war against his own city and the brothers had killed each other. This leaves the sisters Antigone and Ismene from the line of Oedipus.
Creon was the brother of Jocasta and now takes over the rule of Thebes to become the King. He is angry at Polynices, who tried to attack his city. He proclaims a decree that Polynices should not be given full burial rites, but that Eteocles is a hero and should be laid to rest with full libations to travel on to the Underworld safely. Antigone is upset that her brother will not be given full burial rites as the Gods would expect, and decides to bury him secretly herself, even though Creon has said that this act is punishable by death. Ismene refuses to help her, recognising the rule of Creon and his choices, as well as the curse that has been on their family.
Antigone is captured by the guards. Creon, angry that she has gone against his rule and betrayed him, states that he will punish her by blocking her into a cave to die with just enough food to last her so that he is absolved of the guilt. Creon’s son Haemon, who was to marry Antigone, tries to reason with his father and informs him that the people are unhappy that he has gone against the Gods’ will. Creon believes he is doing the best for the state and the city as Polynices was a traitor. They argue, and Haemon leaves to go and be with Antigone.
Tiresias arrives to warn Creon that he is doing the wrong thing and will bring back a plague on the people. Creon accuses him of trying to extort money. Tiresias has been an important adviser and seer to the royal house and is angry at this. He reveals that because of his choices, Creon will lose his son Haemon. Creon finally listens and rushes off to save Antigone.
A messenger arrives to tell us that Antigone and Haemon are dead. Creon could not save them, and Haemon tried to attack his father before killing himself in despair. Creon returns home with the body of his son to find that his wife Eurydice has discovered this already and killed herself over the altar. Creon is left alone. The Chorus (the people of Thebes) remind us that ‘the mighty words of the proud are paid in full with mighty blows of fate…’
Mike Levy, writer and researcher for Keystage Arts and Heritage Ltd, who has worked with the College Performing Arts Level 3 Diploma course for a number of years, comments:
“Well done on a very moving and powerful production of Antigone. I thought the quartet of actors worked brilliantly as an ensemble, and I was especially impressed by their energy, focus and the way they interacted with each other. I loved your choice of music – pitch perfect – and pacy direction. It is a relentlessly powerful play, and the actors handled the verse really well. They also created a truly convincing sense of ritual, which fits the play’s antiquity really well. The actors are really talented!
“So another triumph for OPUS!”