Rhythm and Structure: Brecht’s Antigone in performance

Authors

  • Bruno C. Duarte FCSH Universidade Nova de Lisboa

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.2295

Keywords:

Brecht, Hölderlin, Greek Tragedy

Abstract

Brecht’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone in 1948 was openly a political gesture that aspired to the complete rationalization of Greek Tragedy. From the beginning, Brecht made it his task to wrench ancient tragic poetry out of its “ideological haze”, and proceeded to dismantle and eliminate what he named the “element of fate”, the crucial substance of tragic myth itself. However, his encounter with Hölderlin's unorthodox translation of Antigone, the main source for his appropriation and rewriting of the play, led him to engage in a radical experiment in theatrical practice. From the isolated first performance of Antigone, a model was created – the Antigonemodell – that demanded a direct confrontation with the many obstacles brought about by the foreign structure of Greek tragedy as a whole. In turn, such difficulties brought to light the problem of rhythm in its relation to Brecht’s own ideas of how to perform ancient poetry in a modern setting, as exemplified by the originally alienating figure of the tragic chorus. More importantly, such obstacles put into question his ideas of performance in general, as well as the way they can still resonate in our own understanding of what performance is or might be in a broader sense.

Author Biography

Bruno C. Duarte, FCSH Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Bruno C. Duarte received his PhD in Philosophy from the Université Marc Bloch – Strasbourg, under the guidance of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe. His dissertation ‘O toi parole de Zeus’. Hölderlin et Sophocle focuses on Friedrich Hölderlin’s remarks to his translations of Sophocles, their relation to Aristotle's Poetics and the performance of Greek Tragedy. He is a full member of the Institute for Philosophy at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, and has previously been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin and at Brown University. He is currently a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. 

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Published

31-01-2017

How to Cite

Duarte, B. C. (2017). Rhythm and Structure: Brecht’s <em>Antigone</em> in performance. Performance Philosophy, 2(2), 222–240. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.2295

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