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Theater 32.2 (2002) 62-69

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Mac Wellman


Persons of the Play

All parts are played by theTHREE FATES, alsoTHREE FACTS, on their way to becoming the THREE GRACES; with the exception of , THE SHRIEK OPERATOR, (pronounced "E-shriek") an unknown god of unknown origin, who is named for the special symbol of logical notation as described in the appendix of The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy 2d edition (1999). The traditional parts areCREON,ISMENE(ANTIGONE's sister), CREON's sonHAEMON(ANTIGONE's betrothed), CREON's wife EURYDICE (in my version also the prophet TEIRESIAS), and a CHORUS of Theban citizens.

This version of the tale has been commissioned by the Classic Stage Company, Barry Edelstein, Artistic Director, through the National Endowment for the Arts for Paul Lazar and Annie-B Parsons's Big Dance Company.


and on the roof of my head . . .

—Mazzy Star

Part 1 (Red Bullet)

Once, at the beginning of time, theTHREE
FATES, unpleasant young girls, enacted the
story that was to become that of ANTIGONE.
The three girls played all the parts with hats
instead of masks, and a whole rack of
customary costumery.
A battlefield. Heaps of dead clothing. Dead
clothing strewn all over. Three girls watch
from a distance. Unknown god as a bodiless
shadow approaches. As a swirl of fabric. I
am the Shriek Operator, . I am the
unique situation. I am the uncanny and have
come to this place, place crowded with
corpses and the stench of death. I am the
Shriek Operator and am very pleased with all
this slaughter, this horror, this misfortune.
Misfortune out of contrast, sprung hinges,
what creaks, what is fundamentally broken.
Sand pours without anyone willing it. Pours
from above. From the sky. Something is
covered. Something mangled and horribly
dead. Pours. Horripilation. Who. Who did
this? I am and I am not named Antigone,
daughter of a man whose name. The one of
whom it is said, he possessed one eye too
many. Saw too much. Learned too little from
what he saw. Incurious. Curious, how
incurious. Mind made up. Driven from place
to place by . The Shriek Operator. The [End Page 63]
shorthand for "there exists a unique
situation." The shorthand that stands in
total contradistinction to the shorthand for
"it will always be that." Shorthand for "it
always was that."
A SONG: Thus, it always was / thus it will
always be that / thus, if I am named / who I
think I am / I will always be caught in the
terrible terrible / cat's cradle. For I / /both
must and must not / bury my dead brother, /
A CHORUS: Of all things strange,
humankind / is the most strange. / The cat's
cradle / is news to the spider, / for all things
go round and round; for / I was a stranger
and you took me in; for / I was a stranger and
you took me not in; for / / straw, straw,
straw, / straw shows which way the wind
blows, / and an empty belly thinks the moon is
green cheese; for / / (the King of Spiders) / /
Up he was stuck /up he was stuck /up he was
stuck / and in the very upness / of his
stuckitude / he fell. / / (Straw, straw, straw,
straw.) / / And what I learned from my long /
life of spinning string, /life of measuring
string, / life of snip, snip, snip: / / You can't
beat something with nothing.
Creon watches her. I wonder what she is.
Doing in her thinking. He says: The rule
is: Eteocles, hero. Polyneices, the logical
opposite: traitor. If one, then not the other.
This is an unanalyzable truth. Truth is
true. (That is why it is called the truth.) A
rupture. Time backs up and shakes itself
like a wet dog.
I am a stranger, Ismene, my eyes see the
clearest. I'm clearing out. As she goes:
Devil take the hindmost. Antigone. A hint's
as good as a kick. Take the double-faced
mask (that they were wearing). I see so
clear I don't need one. What I need is a good
hat. A fatal hat. She puts one on. She
carefully balances...


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