This new translation of Sophocles' Antigone by Nobel Prize winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney, written in 2004, was celebrated when released but is still unfamiliar to most American audiences. It will be directed at La MaMa by American director Alexander Harrington, founder of The Eleventh Hour Theater Company.
The translation is faithful to its source, varied in its verse forms, with a markedly Irish diction and abundant use of the contemporary idiom of power politics. Harrington, whose productions are known for their mastery of stage oratory, is placing great stress of the ritual elements of Antigone, blending the script with a musical score by Carman Moore and choreography by Claire Pavlich.
Sophocles' play tells how Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, gives her brother, the traitor Polyneices, a form of ritual burial (she scatters his corpse with dust) against the explicit instructions of her uncle, King Creon, and the advice of her sister, Ismene, even though she knows that the consequence will be her death. She thereby initiates a grimly tragic process: not only does Antigone die, hanging herself when Creon, in retribution, buries her alive in a cave, but Creon's son Haemon, who is betrothed to Antigone, also kills himself out of grief, as does Creon's wife, Eurydice. Creon, eventually convinced by the prophet Tiresias and the play's chorus of elders, does relent - too late - but Antigone is intransigent, despite a striking moment of self-doubt before her incarceration.