The Park’s The Other Festival - 2006  
    - are you there yet?  
    The Museum Theatre, Chennai 
    Dec 6, 2006  

    "ISMENE DE YANNIS RITSOS", an adaptation by Nirupama Nityanandan 

    This show is dedicated to Bhagirathy Narayanan 

    ISMENE, the poem, was written by the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos in the ‘sixties, during the historical takeover of power by the Colonels. 

    Ismene is the name of a woman.  
    Ismene comes from one of the great mythical families of Ancient Greece. Her father was Oedipus, her mother Jocasta and her sister, the rebel Antigone. They have all become emblematic figures in Western culture. 

    In this text, Ritsos gives speech to Ismene, « the forgotten sister », the only one of the famliy who did not participate in the tragedy but watched it happen. This mature woman, surrounded now by silence and solitude finally finds the words to tell her story. 

    She tells us of her childhood memories, of her famous sister – revealing her in a new light – but also of the very familiar themes of the rôles we play, the attitudes we have when faced with crises and political chaos. 

    Ismene has the clear, unpitying eyes of those who do not hide any more in front of their own responsibilities, or in front of the reality we call life, and in this she offers us a fine opportunity to question ourselves when events demand that we position ourselves. 

    The poem lasts an hour and will be performed in English. 

    by Yannis Ritsos 
    Adapted by Nirupama Nityanandan 

    Directed by Brigitte Foray  
    Interpreted by Nirupama Nityanandan 
    Work on body movement by Maïtreyi  


    « If you want to go down deep, you do not need to travel far. » - Ludwig Wittgenstein 


    A woman, walled in by silence and solitude for years. She is the last survivor of a royal family whose history has endured till today because it has become emblematic, part of a Myth. 
    For the first time Ismene reveals herself and tells her part in the story. 

    How to render theatrical a text that is not written as a play? 

    Ritsos could have chosen to write a play, but he prefers to concentrate on one single character and on what she has to say. First and foremost a poet, his need was to establish a direct link between the character and the person who listens, to recreate the intimacy that we might feel when we read a book. To find that closeness. 

    An actor, 
    A shawl, 
    A chair, 
    are only ingredients necessary to bring into relief, in the most transparent way, this putting into words of a poem that, far from being a smooth, peaceful narrative, is more a deep dive into the soul, a rocky crossing, woven with impulses and retreats, sudden rushes forward that suddenly stop, the elements that permit the words to burst forth in all their force and amplitude.  

    An invocation that relentlessly leads the character towards her own truth. A considerable effort. For the character and for the actor. 

    A few branches of the family tree... 

    Daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta.  
    Sister of Antigone. 

    Sister of Ismene.  
    Rebels against her uncle Créon, is condemned to be buried alive but hangs herself. 

    Father of Antigone and Ismene.  
    Son and husband of Jocasta. 
    Blinds himself when he discovers that he had slept with his own mother. 

    Son of Creon. Cousin of Ismene and Antigone.  
    Betrothed to Antigone. Loved by Ismene.  
    Commits suicide when Antigone kills herself. 

    Mother (and wife by incest) of Oedipus. 
    Mother of Antigone, Ismene, Polynices and Eteocles. 
    Hangs herself when she finds out that she had slept with her own son. 

    The Sphinx:  
    The mythical figure of a lion-bodied woman who asks travellers a riddle at the gates of Thebes which they had to answer correctly or be devoured. 

    A blind prophet of Thebes who revealed to Oedipus that he had murdered his father and bedded his mother.  


    What is The Other Festival?   
    • The Other Festival   • 2006