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Antigone in Kannada witnessed by a spellbound audience in Delhi

New Delhi, Oct. 21 : An experienced and noted director Balakrishna Naik has successfully directed yet another play Antigone, a Greek tragedy, in Kannada

The play was written by Sophocles in 441 BC and translated into Kannada by P. Lankesh.

Produced by Kempukote (Red Fort), a group of young artists, it performed at the Delhi Karnataka Sangha here on October 18.

Antigone picks up where Oedipus ends. Oedipus has just passed away and Antigone and her sister Ismane decide to return to Thebes with the intention of helping their brothers, Eteocles and Polyneces, and avoid a prophecy that predicts they will kill each other in a battle for the throne of Thebes.

Upon her arrival in Thebes, Antigone learns that both her brothers are dead. Eteocles has been given a proper burial, but Creon, Antigone’s uncle who has inherited the throne, has issued a royal edict banning the burial of Polynices, who he believes was a traitor.

Antigone defies the law, buries her brother, and is caught. When Creon locks her away in a cave, she kills herself.

Meanwhile, not realizing Antigone has taken her own life, the blind prophet Teiresias, Creon’s son and Antigone’s fiance Haemon, and the Chorus plead with Creon to release her. Creon finally relents, but in an instance of too-late-timing, finds her dead in her jail cell.

Out of despair, Haemon and Creon’s wife have by now also killed themselves, and Creon is left in distress and sorrow.

This play has been interpreted in many ways by various directors all over the world, but for Balakrishna Naik, this play is a clash between kingship represented by the main character Creon (Prakash Shetty ) and kinship represented by another main character Antigone (Prithivi Karinje) ; hence more contemporary than any other plays.

Creon wanted law to be implemented properly, but Antigone wanted her brother to be buried appropriately.

While asking about this, Naik said: “Theatre is one of the most powerful media to communicate and entertain. Greek theatre evolved over 2500 years ago did the same.”

“Reading Antigone translated by P. Lankesh in Kannada made me to think how relevant is the play in today’s India. Then, I found that it is being played even now across the world in Europe, America, Africa, Australia and Asia. We, a few theatre enthusiasts of Delhi took this ‘ambitious and challenging’ play,” he added.

The play reflects on power. Antigone has become a symbol of moral integrity and courage which has inspired generations since the play was first performed until today.

The production did everything to communicate this thought through powerful argumentative dialogues. All of the characters including Ismene ( Vidya Bhat ) Haemon ( Santhosh Hosahally), guard (Rakesh Nadujar) Messenger ( Sukhesh Shetty) Teiresias (Purushottama Bilimale), Polinices ( Ravi Moodbidre) and Eurydice ( Anitha Naik) have focussed on this thought in their dialogues and movements.

The two body guards of King Creon ( Chandra Naik and Avanindranath Rao ) exhibited their great control on the body, which is otherwise almost impossible to stand still till the end of the drama.

Even the powerful ‘chorus of Old Theban Men’ lead by Pradeep Kumar, Pooja Rao, Savitha Nelly, Chidambara Kote, Raghav sharma, KR Ramamoorthy, and Krishnaraja Nelly, added to the tragedy by their beautiful renderings of magical words.

The simple dress of black and white combination (Saiprashanthi Shetty and Ashivitha Shetty) has taken the spellbound audience to Ancient Thebes. KS Nahusha and Sharat excelled in creating Greek atmosphere on stage with their very skilled art work

The play was very serious and highly disciplined from the beginning to the end.

While entering to the auditorium, the audience has seen the decaying corpse of Polynices, and at the end they saw the tragic end of Creon. A somber warning from the chorus that pride will be punished by the blows of fate echoed in the auditorium made audience speechless.