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The Burial at Thebes

   

The Burial at Thebes

A version of Sophocles’ Antigone

By Seamus Heaney

Directed by Malcolm Tulip

Graphic Design by CAP Designs

March 30 - April 9, 2006

Trueblood Theatre

UM School of Music

Dept. of Theatre & Drama

 

Overview     Press Release      Program     Photos

 

Overview

“Whoever is not for us is against us.” The sequel to the tragic tale of Oedipus, Antigone dramatizes the elemental question between private loyalties and a citizen’s responsibility to the state as depicted by the conflict between Antigone, Oedipus’ daughter, and Creon, the King of Thebes. Creon has forbidden a proper burial to Oedipus’s son Polynices, whom he has decreed a traitor. Antigone openly disobeys Creon’s command in order to honor the traditions of her ancestors by burying her brother. Ignoring the opinion of his confidants, Creon persists in his harsh punishment of Antigone until it is too late to avert personal and state tragedy.

Seamus Heaney’s powerful new version of Antigone was commissioned as part of the centenary celebration of the Abbey Theatre in Ireland. As written by the Nobel Laureate Poet, The Burial at Thebes “takes Sophocles’ dense, concentrated poetry and decants it into a beautifully transparent contemporary idiom” (The Irish Times). Featuring striking versions of the choruses along with vivid text, The Burial at Thebes is a timeless commentary on the corrupting influence of power.

 

Press Release

UM DEPARTMENT OF THEATRE & DRAMA BIDS FAREWELL TO THE

TRUEBLOOD THEATRE WITH A MODERN VERSION OF SOPHOCLES’ ANTIGONE

ANN ARBOR — The UM Department of Theatre & Drama presents The Burial at Thebes, a modern version of Sophocles’ Antigone by Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Dramatizing the elemental question of the relationship of an individual to the absolute power of the state, The Burial at Thebes plays March 30 and April 6 at 7:30 PM, March 31, April 1, 7 and 8 at 8 PM, and April 2 and 9 at 2 PM at the Trueblood Theatre in Ann Arbor. Malcom Tulip, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre & Drama, directs. The Burial at Thebes will be the last dramatic production given by the Department in the Trueblood Theatre before the Frieze Building is demolished this summer.

   The Burial at Thebes was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre in Ireland as part of their centennial celebration. Heaney’s first reaction was to decline, citing numerous translations of Antigone already produced by Irish writers. However, he changed his mind when he considered the commonality of the story to modern day world events, in particular the U.S. action in Iraq. Heaney stated, “I didn’t want the production to end up as just another opportunistic commentary on the Iraq adventure, and that was why I changed the title. I called my version The Burial at Thebes partly because “burial” signals immediately to a new audience what the central concern of the play is going to be: a contest involving the rights of the dead and the laws of the land. It still recalls to us our destiny as members of a mortal species and reminds us, however subliminally, of the need to acknowledge and allow the essential dignity of every human creature. It implies respect for the coffin, wherever it is being carried, whatever flag is draped over it, whatever community is crying out alongside it.”

   The sequel to the tragic tale of Oedipus, Antigone dramatizes the elemental question between private loyalties and a citizen’s responsibility to the state as depicted by the conflict between Antigone, Oedipus’ daughter, and Creon, the King of Thebes. Creon has forbidden a proper burial to Oedipus’s son Polynices, whom he has decreed a traitor. Antigone openly disobeys Creon’s command in order to honor the traditions of her ancestors by burying her brother. Ignoring the opinion of his confidants, Creon persists in his harsh punishment of Antigone until it is too late to avert personal and state tragedy.

   Tulip worked with Stephen Rush, assoc. professor in the School of Music, to create original music for the chorus in the show. Rush’s music incorporates traditional Irish elements with a contemporary bent. “The only significant change I have introduced for this production is the changing of the chorus from a group of Theban elders to a group of younger blue- and white-collar workers. I believe in this day and age often the old are not the only ones willing to speak truth to power,” states Tulip.

   Tulip and Rush are joined by scenic designer Edward T. Morris whose previous designs were seen in 1918. Morris, an undergraduate in the Dept. of Theatre & Drama, has taken advantage of the imminent demise of the Trueblood Theatre by distressing the theatre itself in order to represent the Palace of Thebes, which has just been through a civil war. Other members of the artistic team include Jessica Hahn, costume designer, and Rob Murphy, lighting designer. Both are assoc. professors in the Department of Theatre & Drama. Michael Eisenberg, a student of performing arts technology in the School of Music, designs sound.

   The Burial at Thebes is the last production by the Department of Theatre & Drama in the Trueblood Theatre before the demolition of the Frieze Building this summer. The Department has used the space since 1958. In August 2006, the Department will move into the academic wing of the Walgreen Drama Center on the UM North Campus. The Arthur Miller Theatre, which will replace the Trueblood Theatre, will be located within the Drama Center, and is scheduled to open in Spring 2007.

 

Program

Click here to view The Burial at Thebes program.

 

Photos

Kyla Embry
Cara Akselrad
Kyla Embrey
Cara Akselrad
cast of the burial at thebes
Kevin Kuczek
Chorus of The Burial at Thebes
Kevin Kuczek
The Burial at Thebes
 

de'lon grant and kevin kuczek

De'Lon Grant and Kevin Kuczek
Kyla embry
kyla embry
Kyla Embrey
Kyla Embrey
chorus
chorus
casst
chorus
Cast
Mikala Bierma
ALEXANDER POLCYN
alexander polcyn and de'lon grant
Alexander Polcyn
Alexander Polcyn and De'Lon Grant
chelsea O'connor
kyla embrey and de'lon grant
Chelsea O'Connor
Kyla Embrey and De'Lon Grant
matthew smith
de'lon grant
Matthew Smith
De'Lon Grant
Matthew Smith and Joseph Moses
chorus
Matthew Smith and Joseph Moses
Zoe Palko
chorus
karenanna creps
Chelsea O'Connor, Mikala Bierma, and Zoe Palko
Karenanna Creps
chorus
Anna heinl and karenanna Creps
Anna Heinl and Karenanna Creps
chorus
de'lon grant
De'Lon Grant
anna Heinl
Anna Heinl

 

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower

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