Playwright Colin Murphy brings an ancient classic right up the present day in Antigone, the story of a plague, a refugee crisis, a coup, and a body too dangerous to be buried.
A plague. A refugee crisis. A coup. This is #ANTIGONE - a dystopian alternative Ireland in which the worst fears of the pandemic have been realised, social order has collapsed, and a military government is attempting to restore order by setting a brutal example.
Antigone is the classic account of the conflict between the individual and the State. It is the story of a body too toxic to be buried, a State afraid of a funeral, a people under siege, a city under curfew, a collapse in political authority, and a conflict between loyalty to family and duty to state.
In this new version, General Críon, the first female head of the armed forces, has seized power in a coup, in a bid to defend the State both from the plague that is ravaging Europe and from the influx of refugees that are desperately trying to escape the plague. Críon has given her troops licence to turn back refugee boats at sea and shoot new migrants arriving on our shores, under the pretext that they may be carrying contagion, and ordered that the dead bodies not be touched, for fear of infection.
Meanwhile, her son, Éamonn, an aid worker in the refugee camp, has fallen in love with a refugee, Antigone. When Antigone’s brother's body washes up on the beach, Antigone flouts Críon's edict against burial, risking both infection and punishment.
Críon fears not merely the spread of the literal contagion, but a moral contagion arising from Antigone’s disobedience, and sentences Antigone, her would-be daughter-in-law, to death.
Funded by Coimisiún na Meán, #ANTIGONE is a new version of the 2,500-year-old Sophocles play by Colin Murphy, written in response to the pandemic. It draws out these contemporary resonances, provoking insight into the socio-political fault lines of recent history: the trauma of not being able to properly mourn our dead; the extreme restriction of individual rights in the name of the greater good; the heightened fear of the other (both in the pandemic and in successive migration "crises"); the potential abuse of an emergency to consolidate state power.
#ANTIGONE will premiere on Sunday October 1st at 7am, repeated Saturday October 7th at 9pm and will be available as a podcast on GoLoud and all major podcast platforms.
Colin Murphy is one of the country’s leading political dramatists. He has written numerous plays on Irish political history, most recently The Treaty for Fishamble: the New Play Company; his screenplays include The Guarantee and The Bailout. His new play, The United States Versus Ulysses, will premiere at the Pavilion Dun Laoghaire this November.
Antigone was written and produced by Colin Murphy and directed by Aoife Spillane-Hinks. Incidental music, sound design, post-production and editing was by Simon Kenny.
It was funded by Coimisiún na Meán with the Television Licence Fee, and with additional support from the Arts Council.
Antigone was played by Leah Minto
Críon was played by Derbhle Crotty
Éamonn was played by Rowan Finken
Ismene was played by Shauna Harris
Traolach was played by Arthur Riordan
Sophie Messenger was played by Karen Ardiff
Theo Elder was played by Morgan Jones
Professor Choragos was played by Jonathan White
The Guard was played by Killian Scott
PHOTO: Leah Minto (Antigone). Credit: Xavier Saer