Antigone: Ritual Sacrifice to Balance Masculine and Feminine Order in Nature

Dr. Thomas Paul Pfeiffer
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This paper attempts to place this conflict between the Divine and the Civil in terms of an underlying battle between the Masculine and the Feminine for a balance in Nature. The paper also places the play in the context of ritual drama, funerary honors and sacrifice. In a more mystic sense, the play presents the conflict of Masculine and Feminine deities for supremacy over humankind. Here, Antigone comes to represent the Divine Spark which is Feminine in all humanity and which manifests itself through the need to nurture and to protect. To her belongs the realm of the family and the future. In balance, Creon represents the equally human need for supremacy over Nature and thereby to dictate the future. Neither can succeed just as neither could exist without the other. In theme and in action, the tragedy becomes more primal revealing its connections to ritual sacrifice and ritual dramas. Examined from the vantage of this battle between two visions of Natural Order, and set against its heritage of ritual sacrifice and funerary honors, Antigone reflects a world of conflict incapable of total resolution.

Keywords: Greek Tragedy in Performance, Antigone, Origins of Tragedy, Ritual and Drama, Masculine and Feminine in Natural Order
Stream: Arts Education, Analysing Artforms
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Antigone

Dr. Thomas Paul Pfeiffer

Director Of Theatre, Bobbi Biron Theatre Program, Salisbury University

Since beginning his career as a professor of Theatre twenty-six years ago at Salisbury State University, Dr. Pfeiffer has been in active pursuit of his two academic loves – History and the Theatre. He completed his Master’s degree at the University of Maryland in 1985 in Theatre History and Directing and his Doctoral degree at the Union Institute in 1992 in Theatre History and Performance. He has also extended these studies to include professional training in Renaissance and Baroque dance at the Amherst Early Music Institute and in acting at the Herbert Berghoff Studio in New York. Most of his professional acting training, however, has been in the classical theatre. Dr. Pfeiffer has studied at the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C. At Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, he was one of only twenty-four American teachers selected to train in a three-week workshop entitled ‘Shakespeare in Performance’ as taught by theatre professionals from Great Britain, Australia and the U.S. He has continued to combine these areas of expertise not only in his teaching but also in the wide range of productions he directed for the University’s Bobbi Biron Theatre Program. He teaches all of the theatre history, voice and advanced acting courses for the program as well, which places a strong emphasis on the study of classical theatre. Serving as Director of Theatre since 1989, Dr. Pfeiffer has led the theatre’s development to wide recognition for the quality of its theatrical seasons and the rigors of its acting training program. Most recently, this leadership has garnered a $500,000 endowment for the program and a new theatre major. Dr. Pfeiffer also answered the call of the professional theatre where he has acted for the Riverside Shakespeare Theatre in Manhattan, among others. He has also very recently entered the British professional theatre this time as a playwright. His one man play, 'Apology For the Life Of an Actor', based on the life of 18th century actor/manager Colley Cibber, was given a special showcase at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘The Other Place’ in 1999. The play received public and critical enthusiasm. Stephen Pimlott, Artistic Director of ‘The Other Place,’ described Dr. Pfeiffer’s ability to bring the 18th century to life on the stage as, “Brilliant.” The play was also invited to the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival for the summer of 2001, where both Dr. Pfeiffer (as Cibber) and the play received very favorable reviews, cited by The Scotsman as “a fascinating time travelogue, an hilarious and credible hymn to the joy of entertaining.” In the U.S., Dr. Pfeiffer was awarded an Individual Artist Award by the Maryland State Arts Council in 2004 for his performance in this play.

An active scholar in international conferences, where he has presented on various aspects of the classical theatre, Dr. Pfeiffer also aspires to continue to write for the theatre. He is currently working on a stage adaptation of Henry Fielding’s novel, 'Joseph Andrews', and several other projects for screen treatment.

As the culmination of twenty-six years of service to Salisbury State University; sixteen years of leadership as Director of Theatre; and notable accomplishments in both the academic and professional theatre, Dr. Pfeiffer was one of four selected to receive the prestigious Distinguished Faculty Award for 2000-2001 at Salisbury State University.

Ref: A06P0103