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Synopsis and Characters

Three people reach their hands towards the sky.
Photo of Cage Sebastian Pierre, Ariana Burks, and Danielle Davis by Michael Brosilow.

Synopsis: The Oedipus Trilogy

In 2019, Court announced its plans to stage Sophocles’s foundational works—Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone—in a trilogy (aptly named “The Oedipus Trilogy”). By putting these works in conversation, audiences would get the full story of the cursed Oedipus line.

Three people embrace.
Photo of Ariana Burks as Ismene, Kelvin Roston Jr. as Oedipus, and Aeriel Williams as Antigone in The Gospel at Colonus.

In Oedipus Rex, the first work in the trilogy, Oedipus —king of Thebes—uncovers (and unknowingly fulfills) a prophecy in which he is doomed to kill his father and marry his mother. Once he learns the truth of what he has done, he blinds himself and exiles himself from Thebes forever. The second production in the trilogy, Oedipus at Colonus, was staged as Lee Breuer and Bob Telson’s adaptation, The Gospel at Colonus, in which Oedipus’s quest for redemption is set to a soaring score of gospel music. In this production, Oedipus searches for— and finds—a resting place in the city of Colonus. He dies peacefully, finally absolved of guilt and favored by the gods.

Antigone is where the Oedipus Trilogy comes to an end and our story begins.

Synopsis: Antigone

Two people embrace.
Photo of Ariana Burks as Ismene and Aeriel Williams as Antigone in Antigone.

After Oedipus’s death at Colonus, Antigone’s brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, clashed over control of the city of Thebes and murdered each other in a civil war. Eteocles, defender of Thebes, has been posthumously exalted whereas Polyneices, traitor of Thebes, has been left unburied by edict of King Creon, the current ruler of Thebes.

Out of love for her brother, Antigone decides to bury Polyneices and tries to convince her sister, Ismene, to join her. Ismene refuses. Defying both her sister and the king’s edict, Antigone breaks the law and bestows burial rights upon Polyneices.

King Creon is furious to learn that Polyneices has been buried and he demands that the person responsible be held accountable. Antigone reveals herself and King Creon sentences her to death. Haimon, Creon’s son and Antigone’s lover, argues with his father in defense of Antigone, but Creon is immovable. Tiresias, a prophet, then informs Creon that the gods are unhappy with his decision and Creon ultimately reconsiders.

However, Creon’s change of heart comes too late. By the time Creon relents, Antigone, Haimon, and Eurydice—Haimon’s mother and Creon’s wife—have all ended their own lives. Creon is left in despair and forced to confront the repercussions of his actions.

Family Tree

A family tree is titled " Antigone's family tree.” On the left side, King Laius and Queen Jocasta gave birth to Oedipus. Oedipus married his mother Jocasta, and their four children are listed beneath them: Polyneices, Ismene, Eteocles, and Antigone. The key indicates that Laius, Jocasta, Oedipus, Polyneices, and Eteocles are deceased at the beginning of Antigone. The key also indicates that both Laius and his son Oedipus were kings. Captions beneath character names indicate that Laius was killed by Oedipus; Jocasta died by suicide; Polyneices and Eteocles killed each other; and Antigone dies by suicide. The key indicates that Ismene is alive at the end of Antigone. On the right hand side of the family tree, Creon is connected to his sister Jocasta. The key shows that he is both a king and is alive at the end of Antigone. His wife Eurydice and his son Haimon both are shown to die by suicide. Haimon was engaged to Antigone.

Characters

  • Antigone: Daughter of the cursed Oedipus; sister of Ismene and the deceased Eteocles and Polyneices; insists upon burying Polyneices’s body against King Creon’s orders (played by Aeriel Williams
  • Ismene: Daughter of the cursed Oedipus; sister of Antigone and the deceased Eteocles and Polyneices (played by Ariana Burks
  • Creon: King of Thebes; brother-in-law of Oedipus and uncle of Antigone, Ismene, and their deceased brothers (played by Timothy Edward Kane)
  • Haimon: Son of Creon; fiance of Antigone (played by Matthew C. Yee)
  • Demophilus: A Poet of Thebes; their name roughly means “lover of the people” (played by Danielle Davis)
  • Euboule: A Poet of Thebes; their name roughly means “good counsel” or “good advice” (played by Cage Sebastian Pierre)
  • Watchman Who Becomes Messenger: Responsible for guarding the body of Polyneices; later becomes a messenger when there is no one left to watch over (played by Julian Parker)
  • Tiresias: A blind prophet (played by Cheryl Lynn Bruce

Posted on January 31, 2024 in Learning Guides, Productions

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