Antigone (by Sophocles)

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Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles (c. 497/6–406/5 BC)[1]

The original text

Written in or before 441 BC, it is one of the most celebrated and utilized political protest plays in the world canon, with its theme of resistance to oppression and unjust laws in the face of conflicting social and familial values.

Chronologically it is the third of Sophocles's three Theban Plays, but was the first written. The play expands on the Theban legend, beginning where Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes ends.

See also the general entry on Antigone.

South African translations and adaptations

1946: Translated into Afrikaans by T.J. Haarhoff, published in Die Antieke Drama. 1. Tragedie by Afrikaanse Pers-Boekhandel (1946).

1961: Translated into Afrikaans by J.P.J. van Rensburg, published by Human & Rousseau in .

1973: A dramatised "performance" of excerpts from the Sophocles play forms the core of The Island, a workshopped play by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona.

1975: Translated into Afrikaans by Theo Wassenaar.

1985: Adapted by Jannie Gildenhuys for an Afrikaans production staged in 1985.

1988: A Zulu adaptation called Igazi Lam ("My Blood") sets the action in a hypothetical post civil war South Africa. Written by Peter Se-Puma and was first performed at the Market Theatre.

2004: Adapted by Sean Mathias and Myer Taub giving it a distinctly African flavour without neglecting its traditional elements for a production staged at the Grahamstown Festival in July, 2004.

2015: Adapted as #Antigone, a multimedia version set in 21st century world TV and the internet, by Wendy Watson and Kenlynn Sutherland.

Performance history in South Africa

In South African productions of the play Antigone it is often not clear from the available documents which version was used, particularly in the adaptations (see the list under Antigone). If there is any uncertainty, these productions are listed here, under the Sophocles version.

18**: First produced in South Africa by *** in 18**.

18**: Also done by the students of the Hugenote Gedenkschool in Wellington, directed by I.M.E. Fremantle.

1953: The Haarhoff Afrikaans translation was first performed by National Theatre Organisation, directed by J. Nel van der Merwe, with Anna Neethling-Pohl.

1961: The Van Rensburg Afrikaans translation was staged by the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department at Rhenish Girl's High School in Stellenbosch as part of the Arts Festival Stellenbosch. The production was directed by Fred Engelen and the cast included Tine Balder (Antigone), Katinka Botha (Ismene), Laurie van der Merwe (Kreon), Marguerite de Villiers (Euridike), Ernst Eloff (Haimon), Fred le Roux (Teiresias), Frans Marx (Wagter), Emile Aucamp (Bode) and Jean Marquard (Dienares). Decor by Emile Aucamp and costumes by Esther van Ryswyk. This production was also staged at the Little Theatre in Cape Town in July.

1962/3? Included in a production entitled Antigonesiklus ("Antigone cycle"), made up of versions by Sophocles, Anouilh and Brecht Performed by UTS (Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch), probably directed by Fred Engelen, with professional actors and students, including Annatjie Vorster Lydia Theron, Louw Verwey, Frans Marx and Christine Basson.

1963: The Van Rensburg Afrikaans translation was staged by the Durban Teachers College, directed by John van Biljon, with a cast including Joey de Koker (Antigone) and Brandt van Aardt (Kreon).

1965: Performed by the Serpent Players, produced and directed by Athol Fugard, with a cast that included John Kani and Winston Ntshona. It was utilized as a vehicle for political commentary by the group.

1969: Performed by the CAPAB English Company, directed by Peter Curtis.

1970: The Watling English translation was staged by PACT, directed by Carel Trichardt, with Lynette Marais (Antigone), Marie Koeleman (Ismene), Raymond Davies (Creon), Paul Eilers (Haemon), Nigel Vermaas (Tiresias), Francois Stemmet (Sentry), Frantz Dubrowsky (Aide), Janice Honeyman (Eurydice) and others. Decor was designed by Raimond Schoop and costumes by Patricia Slavin.

1973: Performed in adapted and summarized form as a play within a play in Fugard, Kani and Nthona's The Island.

1974: Staged by The Company, directed by Barney Simon at the Blue Fox).

1981: Typro, an amateur group from Tygerberg near Cape Town, performed a Cape version at the Joseph Stone Auditorium.

1985: The Afrikaans text adapted by Jannie Gildenhuys was staged by CAPAB in The Arena in the Nico Malan Theatre Complex in Cape Town, opening on 12 October, directed by Gildenhuys, with Marthinus Basson, Gary Carter, Neels Coetzee, Libby Daniels, Mary Dreyer, Margaretha Fischer, Mark Graham, Antoinette Kellermann, Belinda Koning, André Roothman and Francois Viljoen. Design by Jenny de Swardt, lighting by Malcolm Hurrell.

1988: Igazi Lam ("My Blood") the Zulu adaptation by Peter Se-Puma was staged at the Market Theatre.

2004: The Mathias/Taub adaptation was staged at the Baxter Theatre following its run at the National Arts Festival, directed by Sean Mathias, with John Kani, Hanlé Barnard, Vaneshran Arumugam, Maurice Podbrey, Terry Norton, Sonia Esgueira, Brian Webber, André Weideman and British actor Ian McKellen [2].

2015: A multimedia adaptation entitled #Antigone, was performed with students of Durban Girls College, on May 11 to 14. Adapted and directed by Wendy Watson and Kenlynn Sutherland, with a large cast including Arabella Latham as Antigone, Casey Milledge as Creon, Kae Cele as the Sentry.


Listing of productions in the UTS programme for Arms and the Man, H.B. Thom Theatre, Stellenbosch, 1968 (held in ESAT Archive)

PACT theatre programme (undated)

Arts Festival Stellenbosch programme, 1961.

Inskip, 1972. p. 147.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Cape Times, 12 July 2004.

Keith Millar, 2015. "Durban Girls College nails Antigone", ArtSMart, 05/15/2015

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