ANTIGONE by Sophocles
National Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia
Monday 6 July│Curium Ancient Theatre
Tuesday 7 July│Curium Ancient Theatre
The National Theatre in Belgrade, with a history of 150 years of theatre production, presents Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone, offering to the audience a unique blend of Serbian coloring and ancient Greek culture, through the contemporary approach of Jagoš Marković, one of the most prominent theatre directors of Serbia. In an era where the victims are categorised according to the side they come from, or creed, or nation, the act of Antigone which against the law of the king/power decides to bury her brother, honouring the unwritten laws of the heart, represents an essential, great and compassionate act of freedom and love, even though “the circle of death continues”.
▪ The performance will be surtitled in English and Greek
After the death of Oedipus, the king of Thebes, his two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, become Thebes’ rulers. They agree to reign in alternate years, but after the first year, Eteocles refuses to surrender the throne. Polyneices joins forces raised by Adrastus, king of Argos, and attacks Thebes. In a duel during the battle, the two brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles, kill each other. Creon, their uncle, assumes the throne and orders that Eteocles should be buried with hero’s honors, whereas Polyneices, who sinned in attacking his native city, should remain ignominiously unburied to be eaten by dogs. Mandate is explicit: the penalty for trying to bury the body is death.
Antigone, their sister, disobeys the order and following the unwritten laws buries her beloved brother. Creon condemns her to be buried alive in a cave, disregarding the desperate pleadings of Haemon, son of Creon and fiancé of Antigone. When Creon, rebuked by Teiresias, eventually yields and goes to set her free it is too late. Antigone has already put an end to her life, to be followed by Haemon and even, Queen Eurydice, Haemon’s mother, who also kill themselves. The tragedy builds as Creon laments over his fatal errors and the loss of his loved ones.
In Antigone, Sophocles deals with the question whether the unwritten laws, which found the ethical existence of a society, can carry more weight than the written laws of the State. The conflict between Antigone and Creon takes the dimensions of a double tragedy. The two opponents refuse to compromise because each one acts obeying to its own duty, believing it as infallible with a universal validity.
LETTER TO THE PROTAGONIST
My dear Ms Ejdus,
These are just some of my thoughts…
A sacrifice is a sacrifice, regardless whose. A brother is a brother, regardless what side he is fighting on.
Finally, a man, any man, is a brother to another man. Regardless of creed or nation.
At the time when victims are categorised according to the side they come from, or creed, or nation, Antigone’s act represents an essential, great and compassionate act of freedom and love. She does not care which side he fought for; she respects his sacrifice; she loves him and buries the man, her brother…
Now, at the time when fascism thrives… Now, when there is no compassion for victims other than “ours”; when the people say, “they did the same to us”; when they pay attention to which side the victim come from… Can you see the immense strength of her actions?!
They would kill her today, the same way, on the town square…
Because Creon does not forgive; he judges the dead, he catalogues them and keeps on waging a war…
And – come what may.
The cycle of death continues…
Then the city and society disappear … life itself … simply disappear…
There is striving towards death…
Danilo Kiš says in Electra – Clytemnestra in a scene with Electra, “In the river of time everything seems small, everything except life itself. Forgive me”.
Nowhere have I seen forgiveness, nowhere, not in the world of the play, the great Antigone, or in our real life, where so many believers and humanists from everywhere exist… There is no remorse, no forgiveness, to carry on… with life.
… Until all the crimes are confessed, until we go down on our knees in front of the victims with respect, remorse, there is no way forward.
Burial is a ritual of respect.
Do you know how many people have not been buried? They do not even exist in official lists of the dead… they have been deprived of dying… because it is not in the interest of those in power, and because of power, because of rights… so far away from justice, either divine or human…
And everyone is quiet. Quiet. They keep quiet even for lesser things.
But, Antigone – free, as you so beautifully put it – she is not quiet. She speaks, she acts. It is the act of freedom. And an act of love.
It is so obvious. That is why I told you then; she is having a good time in the scene… and he is suffering.
▪ To facilitate the public in Nicosia, free shuttle transport from Nicosia to Curium will be offered, for the two performances of Antigone at the Curium Ancient Theatre, in 6th and 7th of July.
Departure: 18:15 (parking opposite the Handicraft Centre in Athalassa Avenue)
Reservations are obligatory on 7000 2414, until the 3d of July, 2015.