On Friday 3rd February, we took Classical Civilisation students from Years 9, 12 and 13 to see Sophocles' Antigone, performed by the UCL Classical Drama Society at the Shaw Theatre in Central London.
All the students have been studying the play as part of their GCSE or AS level course, and the performance provided a wonderful opportunity to see this 2500 year old play interpreted for a modern audience. The play tells the story of Antigone's decision to bury her brother, who has been left abandoned outside the ancient city of Thebes after he was killed while fighting against his own city. The new king (and Antigone's uncle) Creon has decreed that no one should touch the body, but Antigone feels compelled to honour her brother. The play is therefore all about the struggle between obeying human laws or one's own conscience; Antigone and Creon have opposing perspectives, which results in great tragedy. The play also explores the enduring themes of fate, free will, human suffering and frailty.
The play was brought up-to-date with 20th century setting and costume, as well as a very accessible translation. Students especially enjoyed the very sinister and short-tempered portrayal of Creon, and were fascinated by the chorus, some of whom appeared in ragged clothing and were huddled behind railings, and others as suited attendants.
We also got to spend a little time in the courtyard of the British Library, admiring the many striking examples of public art. We are very grateful to UCL Classical Drama Society for a very stimulating and intriguing production, which will produce much engagement and discussion in forthcoming lessons!