Week 6 Response

I have chosen the first scene in Antigone, where Ismene and Antigone discuss the events of the play. If I were to direct this, I would have Antigone on a proscenium stage and Ismene enter from the audience, implicating them as complicit in the dishonorable act of not burying Polyneices. Ismene (if sound works out okay) would be on the same plane as the audience, and would turn no further than a quarter angle out. Antigone’s rage would be accusatory and directed at the audience, in an effort to prevent them from being on her side by making them shut down because human’s don’t like to be yelled at.

Conversely, Ismene is hidden in the audience almost. She is a part of them, speaking for them. Loyalty to the father is the overwhelming sentiment, and the intellectual argument is Ismene’s. I would also show the two brothers on stage as actors. One would be in white burial cloth, the other in really bloody and torn war rags. At the end of the they would be looking at each other on opposite sides of the stage facing stage left and stage right respectively. The battle would be reenacted as Antigone describes it. They would cross the stage and die on the opposite sides with a flash of red in their spotlights.

As Antigone and Ismene’s argument cools down, the spotlight on Eteocles would gradually brighten, maybe rose light to make him look nicer, while harsher ugly light would shine on Polyneices and eventually fade. Ismene would walk proudly through the audience to the doors, with Eteocles following almost angelic. Polyneices, hit by a red low light only, would remain on stage, dead. Antigone would be upstage of Polyneices by the end of the scene, on a stair leading up to a raised platform, almost at the level of the middle of the audience. She would hold a lingering glance at Polyneices, then look angrily at the audience.

One thought on “Week 6 Response

  1. Hi Ruva,
    Here is is worth repeating the prompt to see whether your response was a reply to the request. I asked to: “Take one scene from Sophocles’ Antigone or Anne Carson’s Antigonik, and rewrite it in a Brechtian epic form. You can re-write the drama – or you can describe what you would do to change what happens on stage as if you were a director.

    In this past week’s reading, “The Modern Theater is the Epic Theater” (p171-172) of the Brecht text in Krasner, there is a table showing the changes in emphasis between dramatic and epic theater. Use the information on the chart to assist this assignment. Finally, write one paragraph describing what you changed and why.

    From what I get here, you mean to show the actors as both characters and as themselves (so a double consciousness about the theatricality of the stage event) and you want to break the conventions of the proscenium stage by placing actors in the audience and addressing the audience. My question to you is whether this is the essence of “epic’ theater, as outlined by Brecht. The point of Brecht breaking with Aristotelian theater is to understand the the circumstances of the drama are those made by humans and therefore politics are not immutable. In Aristotelian drama, there is no objecting to the way in which the drama proceeds, as the ends are determined by the gods and the protagonist is punished if she or he defies this. In this, Antigone goes to her fate and Creon his because of their positions in Greek society and because there is no way in which to think that the decree of the gods – to bury the dead – can be changed or that the king, as representative of the state, has to act in a certain manner. To make this Brechtian, some of these ideas have to be understood so that the audience understands the social and political forces at work, who they serve and how they could be changed. As for the formal elements of the drama, we are so caught up in Creon and Antigone’s fates that we don’t have the capacity to assess the political structure of the outside world on this personal drama. This is why Brecht invented the “alienation” effect – so we don’t identify with the character who otherwise could act in a way that makes us sympathize with her or him. In your answer, you changed the “realism” to be more off-putting, but you don’t make the case for how this serves Brechts ideals. I did ask you to write a paragraph describing what you changed and why – and here you seem to describe the difference from realism, but I’m not sure this answers my question of why this may be thought of as “Epic Theater.”


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