Antigone by Sophocles
One of my Twitter pals @clarindabrown suggested this text as part of my challenge. I staged the opening scene with my Year 11 students three years ago when I created a mish mash drama production of scenes from various theatrical time periods. It was my first attempt at a major drama production since starting at my school two years earlier. I liked the idea of trying my hand at directing a range of theatrical styles and Greek Tragedy is iconic for the mark it has made in terms of drama and theatre and its development since then so it was a no brainer to include it as part of the show.
Tragedy is offered as a unit of study in the HSC Course. As part of this challenge I went and had a look at my syllabus documents because I hadn’t really considered it as a unit I would be interested in teaching my kids – until now. The cool thing about it is that it is a comparative study. Students choose one classic Greek Tragedy (either Antigone or Oedipus Tyrannus) and compare it with a modern day tragedy (either Death of a Salesman or Angels in America: Part 1).
Before now I’ve really stuck to what I know (Boal and Meyerhold) but have been feeling the need to venture into new territory. As such, this year I taught Verbatim Theatre for the first time. Now I’m looking for options for my next Year 12 class in 2014. Yeah, yeah, early I know but I feel like exploring all my options thoroughly before committing to anything this time.
The edition of Antigone that I read was part of The Theban Plays trilogy in which chronologically Antigone was the last play that Sophocles in the series. It had an introduction so I had a bit of a read so as to set myself up with some context before launching into my reading. It was great to delve back into I guess, study mode. Learning, relearning and devouring stuff that I’d kind of shelved because up until now, I haven’t really had any need for it.
There were two things I really liked about Antigone: firstly, the strong female character. Brilliant as a monologue if any student is not studying Tragedy for the HSC and is also doing Individual Performance. There are gorgeous chunks of dialogue with her passionately espousing her beliefs. The second thing I liked about Antigone is how the Greek playwright provokes thought about things of moral value, such as good versus evil and all those “external forces that appear to govern his (man’s) life.” The tragic character of King Creon struck such a chord with me initially because of his arrogance and short sightedness. Then he filled me with pity and not much remorse because of the result of his actions. He too would be a fabulous character to play either in monologue or in a unit of study. I’m definitely going to investigate Tragedy as an option for when I next teach Studies in Drama and Theatre.
Do you teach Tragedy? What is your favourite Greek Theatre play?
Next week: Five Women Wearing The Same Dress by Alan Ball. Recommended to me by @alupton
If you have a suggestion for me, let me know in the comments.
Image Credit: Antigone, karlao, 2012