The direction of the first scene of Antigone will set the mood for the entire play. Antigone has called her sister Ismene to meet her outside the palace gates in Thebes. She tells her sister the king will not allow their brother Polyneices to be buried. Antigone tries to get her sister to help but she refuses.
The setting will be at night. Both women wear robes, with Antigone’s robe a dark color indicating mourning. The set will be simple. The palace gates and wall is the backdrop, with a strong imposing look. There will be soft light glowing from behind the wall. This will give the impression of life and activity.
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Directing Scene I of Sophocles’ Antigone
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Although Antigone and Ismene are the only characters, the sound stage should be set to give the impression of occasional voices behind the wall. The voices will be muffled and sound like a conversation between people walking past. When this occurs, the sisters stop talking and look at the gate, fearful someone has heard them and is coming out to investigate. Then the sound of conversation will fade away, and their conversation resumes.
In front of the wall will be a simple bench made to look like stone. There will be two “torches” near the bench to cast the sisters in a “half-light”. Antigone will be seated on the bench. When Ismene approaches she will rise to embrace her. At first both sisters will sit together. As the conversation develops Antigone will pace.
The actresses will make gestures and expressions that match the dialog. Sound and lighting will give the effect of a thunderstorm approaching from the distance. Music is in the background. It will be somber and at a moderate level until Ismene appears, then quiet during their conversation, and become louder and suspenseful at the close of the scene. Wind from the storm blows out the torches.
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