Theatre preview: The Paper Bag

Antigone can’t stop digging in Heloise Thual’s interpretation of Sophocles' tragedy

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Theatre Preview: The Paper Bag

Following a brief run at the Tron, Heloise Thual’s interpretation of Antigone arrives at the Southside Fringe promising to re-examine the myth as both a ritual and from a female perspective. While Sophocles’ play pictures the heroine as a victim of a dogmatic ruler, Thual explores the drama through ecriture feminine, an idea developed by the French philosopher Helene Cixous.

‘This idea of a fragmented and poetic style which allows some void to come in particularly influenced me,’ she says. Rather than setting the action in ancient Thebes or contemporary Glasgow, the staging suggests a timeless space, a garden of mud, where Antigone literally digs into her past to discover the curses which haunt her family.

The Paper Bag does not retell the story of Antigone, but presents her as she tries to unravel her fate. ‘I became fascinated by the staging of rituals,’ she adds, ‘which most of the time are expressions of a trauma.’ Antigone, having suffered the trauma of her father’s incestuous marriage, and then the deaths of her brothers, works through her pain through a sexually charged role-play and an obsession with buried objects.

Side-stepping the traditional structures of performance – especially the rigid rules of Greek Tragedy – Thual’s script suspends time and exposes the underlying horror of Antigone’s situation. Captured by the ancestral curse on the house of Oedipus, and destined to play out a final trauma that will destroy the family line, Thual’s Antigone represents the tragic heroine while hinting at the invisible prisons of hereditary and society that condemn individuals to a predetermined and ultimately destructive life.

Govanhill Baths, Glasgow, Thu 19 May

The Paper Bag

A new play by award winning playwright Heloise Thual.

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