Society for the Arts, Religion and Contemporary Culture



Performance and Symposium


Athens in 441BC was a large and sophisticated city known for unrivalled cultural riches. In this milieu Antigone was performed for the first time, probably in the new theater of Dionysus built on the south face of the Acropolis. The theater was semicircular, of marble, with perfect sightlines and acoustics. Such clarity of sound and sight still amazes visitors to places like Epidauros whose theater could seat up to 14,000. The richness of poetic language, every nuance and phrase, could easily reach even the furthest patron.  In such an ascetic setting Sophocles presented his work. 

Based on an old myth, Antigone confronts problems of love and hatred, revenge and mercy, law and justice. For Sophocles, says David Grene, the myth was the treatment of the generic aspect of the human dilemmas. “Behind the figure of Creon stands the tyrant of the legend; and behind the tyrant of the legend, the meaning of all despotic authority.”

The tragic character of Antigone emerges as powerful. She rejects the law and defies the king himself who imposed it. With profound love and compassion she insists on proper burial for her brother’s body, even if she has to do it herself. In her resignation to the awful consequences of her defiance, she embodies some of the noblest attributes of humanity. And in the play, Sophocles raises unspoken questions of the validity of such action, the nature of justice and the limits of courage. 

Bertrand Fay presents a new version both of the language and the action, a version which may be as challenging to us as the original performance must have been to those who sat in the outdoor theater of Dionysus, two and a half millennia ago. And what of the setting? How can we reconcile a drama designed for spare-boned Greek space with the interior of a sixteenth century classical library imported to a street near Central Park in twenty-first century New York? We now have an opportunity to see the possibilities. 

When I first saw it, Fay’s Antigone had me on the edge of my seat.

Patrick J. Quinn 


9:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast  

10:00 a.m. Introduction: Lillian Sigal, Patrick Quinn 

Performance: Bertrand Fay

Masks by Jim Lewis  

  11:35 a.m. Break

  11:40 a.m. Responses to the Experience: Tom Driver, Lillian Sigal

  12:00 p.m. Discussion

  1:00 p.m. Luncheon

2:15 p.m. The Masks of Antigone

Technical aspects: Jim Lewis and Bertrand Fay

  2:45 p.m. Responses: Tom Driver, Nelvin Vos

3:00 p.m. Discussion

4:00 p.m.  Wines and cheese

Biographical Information about program leaders.

Saturday, February 3, 2001
House of the Redeemer
7 East 95th Street
New York, New York

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From time to time the Board of Directors elects as Fellows individuals it identifies as having made a distinguished contribution to their respective fields. The list of Fellows elected over a period of nearly four decades thus exemplifies what the Society understands as the necessary and vital connections between art, religion and culture.

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February 2001
Performance and Symposium

November 2000
Illuminations & Transformations:
Cross-Cultural Spiritual Dynamics 
in Music, Text, Dance and Film

May 2000
Alternative Readings: 
Sacred Text Embodied in Visual Art

February 2000
The Meaning of Myth

November 1999
Myth, Ritual and the Mediation of Violence

May, 1999
Writers' Ways with Loving and Dying

February, 1999 
The Divine Image
Implications for a changing image of God.

October, 1998 
Uneasy Constellations of Meaning
Theological Perceptions and Visual Images in Sixteenth Century Europe &
The Religious Art of Andy Warhol

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May, 1998 Meeting
AYNI: The Andean Concept of Reciprocity

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