Antigone was first performed at Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford, in October 2003, with Sally Carman as Antigone, Sara Poyzer as Ismene and Barrie Rutter as Creon. In effect Sophocles’ play picks up the Oedipus story some years later, with Creon now the ruler of Thebes. His refusal to allow the body of the ‘traitor’ Polyneices to be given a burial outrages Antigone, who urges her sister Ismene to honour the memory of their brother and defy Creon. The timing of the production proved strangely resonant: in the aftermath of the Iraq war, issues to do with ‘winning the peace’ and handling ‘pockets of resistance’ were preoccupying George W. Bush just as they had preoccupied Creon 2,500 years before.
If we break
Creon’s law, the family will be finished.
Yes, we’re women, but women aren’t built
to do battle. Men’s wills are like iron.
To live with them, women have to give,
like flower-stems bending in the wind.
That’s why we should submit to Creon
even if his law is wrong. It’s common sense,
It’s survival – Polyneices would understand.
Do as we’re told and we’ll save our necks.
I won’t waste my breath trying to persuade you.
Even if you said you’d changed your mind,
I’d not let you help me bury him now. No,
I’ll do it on my own, and when they pound me
like raw meat, when they batter me with stones,
I’ll feel no pain from the blows, only joy –
my body will be lying next to my brother’s
we’ll snuggle together in his grave.
The living can look out for themselves .
It’s the dead we should cling to and cherish,
since it’s them we have to live with when we’re gone
and that’s longer than we’ll ever spend here.
The laws of the gods are what we live by –
if we break them we deserve to die.
The Guardian Review by Alfred Hickling
Oedipus/Antigone was published as a single text by Northern Broadsides and maybe available online HERE