The Burial at Thebes, a translation of Sophocles’ Antigone by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney premiered on 5 April 2004. Recalling the experience of translating Antigone he wrote “Greek tragedy is as much musical score as it is dramatic script. I wanted to do a translation that actors could speak as plainly or intensely as the occasion demanded, but one that still kept faith with the ritual formality of the original. I was glad, therefore, to find corroboration for this effort in Yeats’s sonnet ‘At the Abbey Theatre’, where he expressed the conflicting demands placed upon his theatre as follows:
“When we are high and airy hundreds say
That if we hold that flight they’ll leave the place,
While those same hundreds mock another day
Because we have made our art of common things.”
Seamus Heaney and Brian Friel pictured at the Opening Night of the 2008 revival of The Burial at Thebes on the Peacock stage.