Antigone Negation

I may have done some serious violence to Sophocles, but I reckon he can withstand it with ease. He may even have suffered worse than my attempt at verse.

For this week, after discussing the chapter in Maxwell’s On Poetry on Space in which he discusses verse drama, we were given the opening chunk of a not particularly poetic translation Sophocles’ Antigone and invited to poeticise it. I gave the feisty Antigone sprawling alexandrines, and Ismene more restrained pentameters.

One of the biggest issues for me here is fusing the ‘elevated’ form of verse with the colloquial speech of two sisters from a dysfunctional family. I imagined ‘the Palace’ as maybe a nightclub, or something. I haven’t fully thought through the dramatic context that would be needed if I were to turn this into a full length verse drama adaptation (having gang warfare feels a bit West Side Story-ish), but I have got a potential cast in mind: Antigone is to be played by Maxine Peake, Ismene by Julie Hesmondhalgh, and the Chorus by – erm – Jeremy Kyle.


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