Theatre and Language

  • Susan Melrose
Part of the New Directions in Theatre book series (NDT)


How should we proceed in the light of the scenario of conventional knowledges I have outlined in Chapter 1? If conventional drama consistently demonstrates modes of intervention (‘revelatory’, or ‘successful’, or ‘tragic’) into scenes of conflict, presented to the gaze of potentially ‘bound-in’ onlookers, then it appears that what we have here before us in the name of ‘theatre semiotics’ is a classic scene of conflictual epistemology, in which an established masterly way of (rationalist) knowing is challenged by one and then another of its callow offspring. But is Antigone, as writerly figure of impassioned (male conceived and written) ‘feminine’ revolt against the substitute Father, bound to threaten all that Creon stands (or acts) for, ceding the central place — ob-scenely by death off-stage — to a newly focused, recentred and solitary, ‘repentant’ and ‘wiser’, order of the present Fathers? As alternative, can we only conceive of an Antigone triumphant, who does not need to die/leave the stage, but who might overturn the order of the Father only to find herself confronted with a country to run, a state apparatus stronger than herself, compromises to be made, and a people keen to see her wedded? Such a scenario would be more compromising than that focused on a principled womanly revenge. But to confront one tradition with the makings of another is to bind oneself in to the endless chain of History: the King is dead, they cry, long live the King/Queen!


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© S. F. Melrose 1994

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  • Susan Melrose

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