A Production of Sophocles' Antigone

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To direct a production of Antigone, one has to consider the fundamentals of the playtext and the history of the plays productions. The context that the play was written in, the playwright himself and the major themes of the play and issues of characterization must all be considered before setting out on such a task, especially if the play in question happens to be two and a half thousand years old.

In the fifth century B.C. Sophocles wrote and produced Antigone, the first of a trilogy that would become the most famous works of that age. The first production of Antigone would have been staged as part of a competition for playwrights in front of up to fifteen thousand Greek citizens. At the Theatre of Dionysus as part of the City Dionysia Sophocles presented Antigone, a play that supports the divine laws over the human, staged around an altar at a religious festival. To have been an audience member at that first staging of Antigone would have been an act of worship in itself. The subject matter of ancient Greek theatre was tied up in the mythology already familiar to its audience, through stories passed down through the previous ages. Therefore the task for the playwright was not just what to tell but how to tell it. Since the audience would have been accustomed with these stories dramatic irony and tension were created because the audience knew the fates of the characters on the stage.

Sophocles was the first playwright to introduce a third actor to productions. Up until then it had been customary to only have two actors and a chorus of up to fifty men. Sophocles reduced the size of the chorus to twelve men and opened up the spectrum for himself and other playwrights to have more than just two characters on stage a...

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...elf should be noticeably Creon's, business-like, doubling as a conference room with a podium or lecturn with an engraving of his own profile on the front of the lecturn and a large gold edged mirror on the up stage wall to emphasise his obsession with his own self image. The walls should be red to symbolize the wars fought and blood shed in Thebes and also the deaths of Creon and Antigone's family who have gone before.

In the fifth century B.C. the themes of Antigone are strong and still relevant to an audience of the twenty-first century. The themes and issues established in Antigone are universal to the human condition because they are not out-dated, their issues remain common in ever changing societies and cultures. Since the plays of Sophocles concern human relationships and not interaction between the divine and human kind, they remain timeless.

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