Edgardo de la Cruz
The essential difference between the classic Antigone and Maria
Lampadaridou Pothou’s modern version is one of personal conviction.
The classic Antigone believes in the rightness of her
actions in accordance with universal law, which transcends manmade
laws. Lampadaridou’s Antigone believes in defining the
meaning of her existence by the actions she chooses to take. In
the former story, society tries to define the individual; in the latter,
the individual insists on defining herself.
Which of these is tragic?
n theatre terms, tragedy is not
defined by genre labels, but by what an audience experiences as
tragic. The nature of the tragic experience is that it produces a
sense of awe at the condition of humanity, and a deep empathy
for the suffering of a character. The experience validates what w
all have known deeply: the recognition of our frailty, but also our
Antigone or The Nostalgia of Tragedy does not set itself
as a tragedy. Rather, it posits the premise that, in today’s world.
doing battle with great conviction against insurmountable is an unattainable condition. Contemporary life is one of
accommodation. Challenges thrown at an existing order, as a w y
to define one’s limitless commitment to a universal law, is per
ceived as stubborn, not tragic. It is deemed a pathetic condition
In my view, the playwright here has not written in the spill!
of her ancient counterparts. Each of her major characters hu
iconic implications representing the essence of some era’s person
aliry flaws: the self-centered, Egyptian Ismene; the accommodai
ing, baroque Creon; the workaholic Haemon; the effen
ghost of Polyneices; and the complaining welfare Chorus. 011)
Antigone remains essentially Greek in her stubborn insistence Oil
This play can be taken either as a statement for an existential
definition of one’s existence, or as a lament for the lack 01
contemporary opportunities for heroic actions, in which Self I
sacrificed to a cosmic ideal. Either way, the play disturbs the srnu .
ANTIGONE OR THE NOSTALGIA OF TRAGEDY
equilibrium of self-satisfaction with the present conditions
The play does not use the techniques of absurdist or existential theatre.
The playwright is too deeply, emotionally poetic, too
a romantic, to see art as an absurd exercise. Her commitment to the individual, and her aspirations are stated with the
de licacy of a poet and a woman, not with the resplendent fury of
the ancient male writers.
Clearly, the play suggests the difficulty of defining the mean one’s existence in an era when commitment at deep levels impossibility. Human connections alone do not define
Neither do commitments to an ideal; nonetheless, they do
provide life with at least a semblance of certitude.
Edgardo de la Cruz was professor of performance and director of Antigone or The Nostalgia of Tragedy at the California State University, Hayward, 1997