Africa at Noon on September 26, 2012

Allen Gilmore in Sizwe Banzi is Dead, directed by Ron OJ Parson at Court Theatre in Chicago, IL. Photo: Michael Brosilow

Role-playing in Antigone and Africa: Can we read Sophocles through Sizwe?

Sarah Nooter
Assistant Professor of Classics
University of Chicago

Time and Loca­tion: 12:00pm, 206 Ingra­ham Hall, 1155 Obser­va­tory Drive, Madi­son, WI

Co-sponsored by the Department of Classics


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In this talk Sarah Nooter will focus on Sophocles’ Antigone, as refracted through Sizwe Bansi Is Dead (1972), a play composed by Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona of South Africa. She will ask whether postcolonial plays—mostly Sizwe, but also several adaptations of Antigone from Africa—can shed light on Greek tragedy through a comparative approach. The significance of theater in the story of twentieth-century Africa, as read in these plays and an essay by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, helps us to see what happens in Sophocles when the state makes actors (but not agents) of us all.


Sarah Nooter is an assistant professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Chicago. She is the author of When Heroes Sing: Sophocles and the Shifting Soundscape of Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and has written articles and reviews on Greek tragedy and modern reception. She is currently writing a book on comparative drama in fifth-century Athens and parts of Africa in the twentieth century, called Drama in a Convex Mirror: Greek Theater in Light of Twentieth-Century African Performance.