A Clarkie Spin on Greek Tragedy: Antigone

Monica Sager , Scarlet Staff

The Clark University Players Society presented Antigone on November 29 through December 2 in the Little Center at no cost to both Clark students and the Worcester community.

Antigone follows the life of eponymous character, who is the daughter of Oedipus. At Oedipus’s death, his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, were supposed to share the throne but were both killed once a civil war ensued. Creon, who was their uncle and was made king, ordered that Eteocles would be buried in honor and Polynices would rot in the sand, which is where Antigone starts off.

Antigone does not want one of her brothers to be punished as such, even though it is against her sister Ismene’s wishes.

Antigone is caught. Her engagement to Creon’s son Haimon, her cousin, is threatened and Creon banishes them both to a cave once Haimon defends his to-be wife. Antigone sees no future and hangs herself while Haimon, heartbroken, falls on a sword. Haimon’s mother and Creon’s wife kills herself as well due to the loss of her son. All of this gets back to Creon, who finally recognizes his mistakes and that he has been a cruel person.

This rendition of the famous Sophocles play was chosen from almost a dozen translations and adaptations, according to Director Alexandra Tennant’s notes in the pamphlet, “we had personal favorites, ones that leaned into the poetry, ones more engaged with historical context, ones with more hope, ones with deeper political fury.” Tennant writes, “when the Rudall translation came in the mail, we were resigned to an adaptation that checked a couple of boxes for us, but not all.”

Rudall’s version is from 1998, 2441 years after Sophocles wrote the original.

And yet, the play still holds true many parts of today’s society.

“The Republican Party has been using the phrase ‘Make America Great Again’ since the 1980s,” Tennant wrote. “When Creon says in his inaugural speech as the King of Thebes, ‘These are my principles of government. They will make our city great again,’ I was struck with the magnitude of the story we were telling.”

Creon (James Nightengale ’21) truly stood out in the play. A harsh dictator, the audience watched as he became vulnerable and finally broke down.  

Creon knew what he wanted. He was the leader after all, and he wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of that.

“I heard in Creon the voices of our current administration,” Tennant wrote. Yet, by the end, when Creon’s son and wife take their own lives, he understands his mistakes.

Nightengale played the emotions perfectly, managing to effectively cry at the end of the hour-and-a-half play.

Other than Creon, other characters also symbolized characteristics of today’s nation, “I saw in Antigone and the Chorus the power of dissent,” Tennant wrote.  

Antigone (played by Maggie Mcloughlin) never backed down to Creon’s orders. Instead, she went against his orders to the country of Thebes and buried her brother honorably. She fought for ethics and justice, not what was politically deemed right.

The Chorus (Aisling Lynch, Casey Bowers, Maddie Thomas, Sarah Drapeau, and Jessie Klitus-Flaim) were all the words of wisdom. They would urge Creon to do something, act correctly. They would speak for their country.  

“Perpetually confronted with reasons to dissent as a human being living in the United States under Trump’s administration, I wanted to tell this story, one told an uncountable number of time, with the strength of community in mind, emotional and physical,” Tennant wrote, “to illustrate its potential to create in light of what is good, and its ability to destroy in what has been poisoned.”