POST: 'Burial at Thebes' - I'm proud they stood up for themselves

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What's it about?

This is the story of Oedipus's children (yes, the same Oedipus that married his mother, so I guess that his children are also his siblings...) and their tragic fate. 

What'd I experience?

Oedipus’s sons, Polynices and Etocles, have killed one another in a fight to take their father’s place on the throne of Thebes. Creon becomes king after they died and he decrees that Polyneices would not be given a proper burial. One of the first scenes shows Oedipus’s daughters, Antigone and Ismene, having a secret meeting where Antigone reveals that she wants to break Creon’s verdict and give their brother a proper burial so he can reach the Underworld.

But her sister refuses to help her - which is so annoying, like that's your brother too? So Antigone goes off on her own to do what she believes is right. When guards find Polynices is to be buried, Creon tells them to reverse what has been done, and again Antigone goes to bury her brother. But she is caught and she has to be punished for her crimes… buried alive in a tomb.

Haemon, who was Creon’s son and Antigone’s fiance fought in defense of his bride-to-be. This was the scene that really resonated with me because Haemon stands up for Antigone. Although she has disobeyed the law, she has really done no harm. The argument between Haemon and Creon felt like it could have easily been an argument between me and my mother (although I really hope I’m never in a situation where my mom buries my fiance alive).

I feel like lots of people have grown up feeling like they have to obey their parents’ wishes. But if ever I thought my parents’ wishes were wrong or irrational, I wouldn’t care about what they thought. Of course, I’d have hell to pay when they found out I broke one of their unspoken rules (and really, I’ve gotten in trouble for things that I had no idea were forbidden). None of the situations I’ve been in have been related to someone’s imprisonment, but sometimes people establish rules that just don’t make sense and you feel like you’re in your own version of a jail cell.

Haemon wanted to be with Antigone, but his father still wouldn’t allow her to walk free. So what if she buried her brother? Who knows, Creon could have been overthrown in some postscript scene and forced to face the same fate that he had declared for Polynices. Sometimes our parents really don’t know what the best route is, so our best bet is to consider their advice. But when someone’s in a position of power, their decisions seem to be binding. No one wants to get in trouble with their parents or the law, but sometimes the law is wrong. Do you remember those horror stories in your history textbooks where women were treated as property? Or when segregation of schools, businesses, and even water fountains, was mandatory?

I’m proud that Antigone and Haemon both stood up for themselves and the people they loved. I wish that Creon was able to get to Antigone faster and free her so that she and Haemon were able to be together in the end, because they would have been really happy with one another. I mean, would you really want to be with someone that doesn’t even try to fight for you? They had both taken their own lives because of Creon’s stubbornness, and upon the news, Creon’s wife took her own life too. Creon learned his lesson in the end… but at what cost? At what cost are lessons we all learn?


Want to see it?

$25 Student Rush

Burial at Thebes
Irish Repertory Theatre
@DR2 Theatre
thru Mar. 6