chapter  4
11 Pages

Love still is love even when it lacks harmony: Antigone and the attempt to humanize tragedy

WithCharlotte Gruber

In a time when the story of Antigone has gained astonishing new prominence on and off theatre stages and its relevance emphasized in connection with a multitude of ever increasing recent political struggles throughout the world, 1 expectations were raised in 2015 when Ivo van Hove announced his upcoming production of the Greek tragedy. This promising Europe-wide, large-scale co-production by the Barbican in London and Luxembourg’s Les Théâtres de la Ville in collaboration with van Hove’s own resident troupe from Toneelgroep Amsterdam as well as Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, and the Edinburgh International Festival would have recourse to a brand-new translation by Canadian poet and translator Anne Carson (who was awarded the T.S. Eliot prize in 2014). Furthermore, van Hove’s Antigone would cast French-born, Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche as the rebellious sister who determines to bury her dead brother, defying the decree of the king, her uncle Creon (see Figure 4.1). When he announced the performance, the Barbican’s artistic director Toni Racklin stressed that he was “thrilled” to have introduced the two artists to each other and to have “commissioned the eminent Canadian poet Anne Carson to write this new translation” (Barbican 2015). However, after the production premiered in Luxembourg on 25th February 2015 and subsequently toured London, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Paris, Germany, and New York, the initial excited anticipation, while echoing through some of the reviews, had dissipated in many of the retrospective press articles that were published.