Kamuzu Academy Classics Department
The Greek Play 2019a
SOPHOCLES - The Oedipus Rex
The Director writes...
The city of Thebes is suffering from a terrible plague that threatens to destroy the city. In desperation the citizens make an emphatic appeal to King Oedipus, who had saved them once before from the sphinx, to use his renowned sense of reason and knowledge to save them. Oedipus arrives on stage informing the citizens that he has sent his brother-in-law, Creon, to the oracle at Delphi in order to determine the cause of the plague. Creon returns with the news that the pollution will remain in the city until the murderer of the previous king, Laios, is discovered and brought to justice. Oedipus, unaware of his own involvement in Laios’ murder, declares that he will uncover this crime and bring peace back to the city. Throughout the play the horrible truth of Oedipus’ birth and marriage is slowly brought into the light. He is disgusted by what he uncovers but, because of his righteous vow, must make the truth known - the truth that he murdered his father, Laios, and that he unknowingly married his own mother, Jokasta. The play concludes with Oedipus’ utter ruin as he kneels before the city as the cause of their terrible suffering; blinded by his own hand because he cannot bear to face the light of truth any longer.
A momentous play to attempt, but the cast did an excellent job. The chorus (the largest yet) were brilliant in their portrayal of the plague-stricken citizens. Their monumental reenactment of Jokasta’s suicide and Oedipus’ self-mutilation was certainly the highlight of the performance. They were made even more macabre by wearing white face masks that only revealed their mouths and allowed them to make the most of their hard, chilling stares at the audience.
This year I kept the same standard of using Malawian chitenje to inform the overall aesthetic of the costume design, but wanted to include a tone of “steam punk” to help modernise the performance. Therefore, a top hat was used to represent the crown of Thebes and Teiresias wore a plague-doctor mask synonymous with the style. Overall, the look of the play is probably the best that we have managed thus far and we have set high expectations for the next play.