by John Stoehr
If you've walked by the Cistern lately, you've seen this on stage. It's the Spartan staging of Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company's highly anticipated (by me, that is) adaptation of Sophocles' Antigone. Another reason it's highly anticipated (by me, that is) is that The Burial at Thebes is a new translation of the Greek tragedy by Nobel Prize-winning poet and all-around magic man Seamus Heaney. Heaney, you may recall, is the guy who in 2000 translated Beowulf. It was so meaty and muscular and awesome that it was even a New York Times bestseller. It's way, way, way better than the movie. We ran a feature on the Burial at Thebes last week. Here's a snippet. Click here to read the whole thing.
The Burial at Thebes dials into [an] implacable opposition — between obeying the laws of men and obeying the laws of God.
Translated by Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for literature, the play underscores human values that have been antipodes since Sophocles wrote it in 442 BC.
On the one hand, there is law, reason, and the pragmatic wisdom of age. That's Creon.
On the other, there is passion, ideology, and indomitable youth. That's Antigone.
"Antigone is drawn to the gods of the underworld while Creon worships gods of the upper air," Pitman-Wallace says. "In many ways, this is about opposing views of religion — of two different faiths and how you deal with the dead."