Playing a tyrant – rethinking an autocrat in Asya Voloshina's Antigona: Redukciia


Written by Russian playwright Asya Voloshina, the 2013 Antigona : Redukciia is, as the author herself refers to it, 'a political satire with elements of poetry and reduction', which recasts Sophocles' title character, Antigone, from an existentialist tragic figure to a political rebel, whose actions of protest become inevitably and ironically performative in the highly mediatised culture of social media influencers and performative post-truth. A radical juxtaposition between the individual and the state, Voloshina's play exhibits deep internal connections with Bertolt Brecht's Die Antigone des Sophokles (1948), which serves as its contextual and analytical entry point. Like Brecht, I argue, Voloshina interprets the tragic conflict of Sophocles' Antigone as highly pragmatic. In her acknowledgement of Antigone's new reality – which simultaneously reminds of George Orwell's 1984 and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games – Voloshina challenges the premise of the 20th century political tragedy. Her Antigone stands to combat the state-based machine of manipulation with her personal truth. She 'is motivated neither by religion nor by kinship'; for her Creon's law is 'simply a pretext to protest against her country turning into a totalitarian state' (SYSKA 2022: 4); and so eventually she is cancelled out from the history and from the myth. I conclude that Brecht's and Voloshina's plays connect the two centuries together, diagnose their respective dark times, and demonstrate that the cultures of populism produce corrupt moral standards, compromise personal dignity, and cultivate post-truth, all channeled through the role of an autocratic, if not tyrannic, state leader.

Klíčová slova:
Antigone; Voloshina; tyranny; Brecht; political tragedy; autocrat; Putin


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