WORKING THROUGH THE TEXT IN A PRACTICAL WAY
NOTE: Before beginning the work in the following pages, it is essential to have read the play through - either in class or just individually in preparation. Much of the work is going to assume a knowledge of the story-line and of character.
THE OPENING OF THE PLAY AND THE FIRST DIALOGUE, ISMENE AND ANTIGONE
The play begins in the middle of things, as is the norm in Greek tragedy of this kind, which must take place, according to the Unity of Time, in a short period of time. Thus the whole play takes place in the short period between Antigone first hearing of Creon's ruling, to her disobedience, her capture, sentence and death.
The stage direction states simply that the two girls enter from the palace. Obeying the idea of Unity of Place, the whole play takes place in this same area, in front of the palace. This is a neutral area, allowing for entrances and exits into the town, outside the town walls and into the palace itself.
Given that the whole play is going to happen in a single setting, how can we ensure that it is interesting enough for a modern day audience? The full implications of setting will be discussed again at the end of the play, but I believe that it helps practical work if it takes place as far as possible within the idea of an environment. Now is the time, therefore, to start brainstorming ideas as to that environment.
What type of stage, too, would it be most suitable for? An open stage? An arena stage like the Greeks used themselves? I think, personally, that space is needed and that either of these two options would be the most suitable. As an exercise, however, you might want to see if the space you are used to - your school stage or studio space might serve the purpose and, if not, what changes you would like to make to it so that it does fulfil what you want.
You have already read the play, so as a whole group first brainstorm what are the main themes of the play and the events immediately before and during the play. Write these down as a list:
This will probably include the story line of the play; the fact that a battle has occurred immediately before the play; that the most obvious themes are the clash between government and the individual; strength and single-mindedness versus weakness and pettiness; the power of sacrifice and love. The fact that Antigone is a woman at a time when women were almost powerless might feature.
Next ask yourselves, which of these ideas have sufficient interest to excite a modern audience and director? Is there anything going on in the world now, or recently, that reminds you of any of the events in the play? Or might it be enough to be making some statement about dictators, as Creon is, in general?
This initial brainstorming is just to wake up the perception process. As a general rule, I would say that unless a particular situation is parallel or similar [ perhaps unlikely] then making a more'catch-all' statement might be better: such as emphasising the trappings of dictatorship - or a police state - through costume, set, etc. and allowing the audience to make their own links and references. Sometimes that is a richer way of proceeding, when making decisions. I wouldn't suggest making any such decisions yet, but just to think about the possibilities as you work your way through. One thing is for certain, it is a play that lends itself to this kind of approach - which is why it has remained popular over the centuries.
What did your brainstorming throw up otherwise? What might Thebes be like after a prolonged battle? How will it have affected the ordinary people? Consider a set that makes an initial impact on an audience of the aftermath of war - the wounded, the mourning, the shocked, the dispossessed. What are the implications of this setwise? - The outside of buildings pock-marked and scarred by battle; bloodstains; the litter of battle - abandoned weapons etc.
Consider a setting in which the dictator Creon has an iron hand: pillars,
a balcony for state 'showing of the ruler' to the people, a regimented
feel to the whole thing. Perhaps banners and a clean but cold look to the
colour of the 'stone'.
Keep your mind fairly open at present, until you are further into your study. Remember that ideas can be mixed too. One idea does not necessarily preclude another.
I think the base minimum is a raised level at the back of the stage and a large open space at the front. The back of the stage needs to show the frontage of a building, the palace, and it will give a further entrance or entrances from the back. This is the same 'base minimum' as the Greeks themselves would have had.
The additions, detail and colour you add to this will be a part of the interpretation
you decide to put on the piece.
For your practical work on the play, build this raised platform at the back and indicate where at least a main entrance in the centre will be. If you have steps, place these in the centre too, though I expect in your finished setting steps that run the length of the raised area may be appropriate and will give you more levels on which to work. If you take a little time to do this whenever you work practically, you will begin to see where such details as further exits and entrances, are necessary and the practical needs of the set will grow in your minds, as it were, organically.
The beginning is quite abrupt for modern tastes. Using the whole group, try a couple of other ideas for an opening to tell an audience something of the situation the characters are in, before the two sisters enter:
- a] The battle has just ended. Some wounded or dead lie about and mourners are searching the dead, or cradling a loved one. The wounded whimper or call out. Aim for an atmosphere of despair, misery. Though the battle is not lost - there was no real way of winning or losing this particular fight - the fact is that the situation has been a kind of civil war, brother against brother, and though Polynices has used mainly foreign mercenaries to attack his home city, there will have been many too who joined him and supported him.
- b.] You want to suggest this is a police state. There are dead and dying, the poor and dispossessed as in the last idea, but this time, Creon is bent on cleaning the place up and taking control as far and as quickly as possible. Therefore, soldiers are herding people away, taking away the dead, not allowing loitering, looking suspiciously and fiercely in the faces of those who litter the stage until the stage is empty of the ordinary people, whereupon the soldiers move into a close formation and exit with much sound of marching and fierce shouts from the officer.
- c.] you start the whole thing with a movement section, showing the battle: try this with a maximum amount of sound and fury to open with, shocking the audience with sound, clash of weapons, shouts, cries, grunts and groans.... then move, on a cue such as the blare of a trumpet, into slow motion... ending up with massive slaughter, bodies all over the stage - but this shown dreamily, slow, with the sounds long drawn out and slowed too. Then you move into an opening like a] to follow on.
- d] similar to c] but the battle clears away during the slow motion section, leaving two figures alone, spotlit in the centre of a bleak space, fighting it out. When the stage has cleared of the others, these fighters [Eteocles and Polynices] go into normal speed, to emphasise the brutality of their fight. Both die - perhaps the falls into death in slow motion once again. The two bodies lie there, perhaps they have fallen in a close embrace, a mockery of their brotherly love, then soldiers come and clear one away leaving the other alone in the spotlight. The wind howls, dust blows.... I got a bit carried away there but you can see the sort of thing! There would have to be a slow fade to blackout before the opening of the play in this case, for the body to be removed.
Trying out all these ideas will have given you something to talk about and preference for the effectiveness of one or the other might suggest the way you want to go in your interpretation of the play.
The way Antigone enters and speaks her first lines will depend very much on the opening you have gone for. For instance, a stage filled with dead and wounded, etc. will call for her flitting sympathetically from group to group, bending here to offer a helping hand, there to comfort a mourner, etc. This makes sense of her opening lines, which are heavy with sorrow.
A stage which has been cleared by the officious soldiery of a police state will suggest an entry in which already Antigone is looking over her shoulder, acting like a member of an underground resistance group, trying not to attract too much attention.
Trying these alternatives out might help you differentiate between the two sisters too. Antigone is the strong one, the one who led her father round the land, blind and reviled. She is the one with convictions - and she is also the one who needs to be sympathetically viewed by the audience. There is affection between the two sisters, but we should be in no doubt who is the stronger of the two.
First of all, having tried out and discussed alternative openings to the play, try out the two alternative entrances I have suggested above. With the entrance that has Antigone moving sorrowfully around the wounded, try having Ismene:
- picking her way fastidiously, careful not to let her skirts get muddy or bloody
- also sympathetic but very much second-string to Antigone, always a little behind her and less forthcoming in her active help
- almost paralysed with distress, the kind who really is not any good in a crisis
With the entrance in which they are living in a police state, have Ismene:
- being pulled reluctantly along by Antigone, who is trying to keep her from giving them both away by forcing her by stern looks and firm grip to keep quiet
- just a follower - happy to go along with what Antigone suggests, but
not able to promote ideas or action
almost paralysed by terror
Approaching the opening like this will have opened your eyes up to possibilities. The nice thing about Greek tragedy is that so few stage directions are given that a modern director can have a lot of fun with the script. Having thought about the fact that there may be a number of ways of seeing, say, Ismene, read aloud in the group the whole of the opening dialogue up to the first entrance of the Chorus. Then answer the following questions, through discussion in the group. This will help clarify the situation for you:
- What are the main points that Antigone makes as to why she will disobey Creon's law?
- What are the main reasons that Ismene gives for not helping Antigone?
- If it were a brother of yours that was being treated in this way, how would you feel? Does that make you feel any different about the standpoint of the two sisters?
In pairs, dramatise the main points that the two put forward, trying to
make them as evenly balanced as you can. Despite this, does an impression
of the two characters start to emerge?
If we look at the first interchange in detail now, by the end you may have come to a definite conclusion as to how you see the two sisters. Then you can go back and decide which entrance may be most appropriate, amongst other things.
Consider Antigone's first speech. It seems to divide itself into three
1. Antigone laments the curse that Oedipus brought down on everyone, by which she means the whole city and land of Thebes.
2. How this curse [his offence against the gods] has particularly made the two of them suffer.
3. The last straw - Creon's order.
Try the speech out in the following ways:
- brusquely, at speed - she has lamented their fate often enough; she regrets it but does not want to dwell on it - she is in a hurry to get to the main point - Creon's decree.
- looking around at the results of that misery - full of pity - also touching her sister with loving and rueful caresses, a shared moment; the order from Creon causing her to slump further - it is the last straw
- full of tense anger, secretive because she doesn't want to be caught before she has done what she wants to do - burying Polyneices [Polynices in the other script; I have always known him as this latter spelling too]
In each of these cases, how would the words 'Brave Creon' ['The Commander'., Penguin line 9] be said:
- dripping with venom?
Try them all out and decide which is the most likely.
Try Ismene's listening and response;
- cautiously - she has heard Antogone's rants often and she is being careful - usually Antigone's rants lead straight onto a wild scheme
- reluctantly - she didn't want to be lugged out here, she is cold and miserable and has had enough of this horrible war
- afraid, tense, the words clipped and anxious, eager for news
- sad, sodden with grief, she has cried so much that now she is drained
All of these interpretations might work [and more]. Go a little further into the scene before making a decision.
Antigone's description of Creon's decree is clear.
How would you describe the fate of Polyneices, left out 'for hungry
birds of prey to swoop and feast/On his poor body' ['a lovely
treasure for birds that scan the field and feast to their heart's content'
- angry and bitter
- heavy with sadness, full of love for her brother
- full of disbelief - she is having trouble taking it in
Any of these might work.
- 'Our noble Creon' Line 31 [good Creon, Penguin line 37] will be in much the same tone probably as your earlier decision.
Now look at: has decreed....'To you, to me. To me!' line 32 ['lays
down for you and me - yes me, I tell you' ...Penguin line 38]
Why does she consider it more of an insult to her than to Ismene - is the repetition of 'To me' because Ismene seems less moved than she is by the news? Or because she considers herself the one to be reckoned with - she looks down on Ismene as the weaker sister?
Discuss this with the group, and then decide on the tone:
- outraged pride
- even more disbelief than before - the repetition emphasises it
- taking it in, feeling it on the tongue, slowly
The last two lines of the speech are where she turns to Ismene and appeals to her. However you look at it they are faintly insulting to Ismene. In the Penguin version even more so, as the word 'coward' is used there.
- all in a rush, face close to Ismene's, hands on her shoulders or upper arms, making close eye contact, the words accompanied by little shakes of Ismene in her desperation to get through to her. This version will minimise the insult and just seeks to put Ismene on her mettle
- moving away from Ismene, as if uncaring, but in fact very aware of her, even glancing at her to see the effect she is making, covertly, casually tossing the words over her shoulder
- as if lashing her with the words, trying to shock her into action, but not really believing she will help - this version will be facing Ismene, but not so close as the first
Put the whole speech together now, pacing it carefully and using the choices you have made. The actual decree needs to come out clearly; it is the only chance the audience has to take it in. [A Greek audeince was familiar with these stories and were far more in the know; you can't expect that kind of knowledge out of a modern audience.]
Ismene's reaction will of course depend on which of the above you have chosen and on the character of her that you are beginning to find:
the uncaring, pleasure-loving, wanting to keep safe at all costs Ismene, who was reluctant to come outside at all with this dotty sister of hers, would use the 'poor sister' accompanied by a long-suffering sigh perhaps. This version will emphasise the 'I' of 'what can I do' ['who am I... what good am I...' Penguin]
The weak follower, who is soft-hearted but scared will be sympathetic and genuinely loving; her offer to help will be sincere, though she is too scared to go against the law
The practical Ismene would also be loving, but would take on a bit of the doubtfulness of the first version [emphasising the 'I'] because her sensible soul can see no solution. She is not cowardly, even if Antigone sees her as such - or goads her with that.
Try out the whole next interchange in all three ways, feeling what seems right to you.
What do you feel about Antigone here? She has something of the fanatic in her manner - but this must not be overplayed, or sympathy with an audience may be lost.
Ismene's long speech will work, whichever of the three interpretations of her you use. If playing the uncaring version, she would need to drop this attitude when describing the horrors of the deaths of their family. This could give a motivation for her being as she is: she has chosen to retreat into this persona out of fear, out of a desire for survival. The pace will be affected by your choice; sensible Ismene will speak more slowly and emphatically than the other two versions. Test this out.
Antigone is far more straight-forward: she is passionate and wilful; the light of heroism is already kindling in her; she quivers with energy, burning, upright and intense. She flails whichever Ismene you choose with scorn. There is a certain amount of self-indulgence in the way she sees herself at this point and she may even be less sympathetic to an audience than Ismene is, dependent on your choice of the latter's character.
Why choose a 'different' Ismene? - To add interest and contrast to Antigone, which is essential to the drama of the situation.
The lines that I feel should be dwelt on from Antigone;s speeches are: 'I have to please/ The dead far longer than I need to please/ The living; with them, I have to dwell for ever.' lines 74-76 ['I have longer/ to please the dead than please the living here:/ in the kingdom down below I'll lie forever. Penguin lines 88-90.] Discuss this in your group. Does this kind of faith and belief make Antigone more attractive? Perhaps it is this strongly religious side to Antigone that marks her out most from the other characters, and particularly Ismene, who clings to her fear and the terrors or attractions that this world holds for her, or has too much 'scientific' common-sense and thus too little imagination, to see further than this world.
Why does Ismene seem quite unmoved by Antigone's rising anger and scorn? Is she used to this treatment? Or does she flinch at times but hang onto her fear or conviction just the same? Try out some of the short lines from after Antigone's long speech with all three characterisations and come to your own conclusions.
What do you make of Ismene's final line 'But those who love you love you dearly.'? line 99 ['you are truly dear to the ones who love you.' Penguin line 116]. If you have chosen the more flippant Ismene, how would this fit? You could make it another crack in her facade, like the fear we saw earlier... or it could be said with a slight shake of the head, as if saying 'I don't understand it but those who love you do seem to love you anyway.' It could refer to Haemon, her fiancé.
Having done enough experimentation, try to make the characters consistent now, by looking back over the work you have done. Is an interpretation of Ismene beginning to emerge?
She could be superior, fond of her creature comforts, with an attitude of anything for a quiet life, exasperated by Antigone's wild schemes and only frightened that she might get blamed if Antigone gets caught, as she certainly will be. If played like this her 'poor sister' and seeming sympathy would be said rather condescendingly, as if humouring a wilful child. Her attitude would drive Antigone mad and explain the extreme position she so quickly takes. She will have been reluctant to come out into the cold night - but then so typical of Antigone to behave like a spy on a mission!
She could be sincere and shaken by grief at their brothers' deaths, but weak and afraid. This Ismene is the follower, supportive of Antigone, but too frightened to be active.
She could be just sensible - a practical down-to-earth character who has always tried to keep Antigone in check from her wilder moods - though this exasperates Antigone - and who counsels, quite sincerely, keeping a low profile and not attracting attention to herself - thus keeping the law because what point is taking a risk that cannot work? This Ismene is not without feeling - she genuinely mourns her brothers, but she is a pragmatist; she embraces necessity and wants to survive. Death, she knows, is not glorious.
Make your decision and then look at the sort of choices there are for Antigone. On the whole, I think you'll find that small interior choices - individual phrases, etc. are possible - but that the main scope of Antigone;s character here is pretty straight-forward. There will be differences, though, according to how you play Ismene. For instance, a superior Ismene will result in a younger and wilder Antigone; a weaker Ismene, a follower - will result in a stronger more 'driven' Antigone. In all cases, however, Antigone is hot-headed and unafraid.
Play the whole scene now, with consistency. It might help if you try it improvised in your own words before reading and acting the lines for a final time.
THE FIRST CHORUS VERSES.
Note that the terms 'Strophe' and 'Antistrophe' used in the Oxford text need not be a worry to you, unless you are going to attempt a traditional Greek-style rendering of the play so far as it is possible, since we know so very little about their style of performance.] The translator, Kitto, kept the terms in. The word 'strophe' means a turn and may indicate which way around the orchestra the chorus were moving. 'Anti-strophe' means a counter-turn, or turn in the opposite direction.
What it does give is a feeling of balance to the chorus songs and this is a part of what the Chorus is all about. The Chorus, who acted in the Orchestra and thus physically nearer to the Greek audience were direct communicators of a message or mood; their movements and words created atmosphere. They also acted as go-betweens - physically closer to the audience and also mentally, being mere ordinary humans as opposed to the great men and heroes depicted on the stage. And in case the audience had forgotten details of the legend, only the climax of which was being enacted before their eyes because of the Unity of Time, they helped by filling out the details, telling the story so far, or asking the kind of questions of a main character that an audience would want to know the answers to.
A modern day audience is unprepared for the conventions of a true Greek chorus - the fact that it sings and chants, its concerted dance movements, just as it would be unprepared to accept the singing of the main characters, who, especially towards the end of a play would most probably all be singing - contributing with their heightened voices to the climax of the piece.
So, this is another directorial decision to be made; how to present the
chorus, to whom are given a large proportion of the lines. Directors in the
past have tried to put the play over in a way that they imagine is as close
to the ancient way as we can guess. The Oresteia, done at the National Theatre
in the 1980s is an example. There the chorus in masks danced and sang and
the main characters, also masked, sang too at moments of heightened language.
Other directors have ditched the chorus altogether, concentrating on the 'psychology'
of the characters in the story. We cannot do the latter, so must find a way
of coping with it.
The Chorus is decribed as 'Theban elders.' That is, they are the old people of Thebes, or those who are advisors, old in wisdom perhaps more than years. Perhaps they are those who have not fought themselves, being over-age, though they would certainly have been the victims of such decisions as were made by the generals and leaders. They could have been used as mourners and so on in the opening, if that is the opening you decided upon. This would have established them as victims of the war. Perhaps this impression could be emphasised by dressing them in robes that are torn, somewhat dirty and blood-stained. Perhaps some have bandages on them and their movement is varied, with some limping, sone supporting, and so on.
If this more naturalistic idea is adopted, there is still no getting around
the formaility of the words spoken. [I do not propose singing.]
There seems to me to be two main ways of tackling the chorus:
- as a set of individuals, as naturalistically as possible. This would lead to lines being divided up amongst different individuals.
- as a group, using physical theatre techniques. Though this doesn't preclude lines being divided amongst different people at times, the emphasis is more on the chorus as a whole, with some group movement and formal group speaking.
Read through the whole of the Chorus section first, seeing if you can divide it up into subject-matter and mood.
The first verse seems to be one of joy and relief; they have been reprieved from danger and victory belongs to Thebes.
The second, third and fourth verses describe in some detail the battle, how the odds seemed stacked against them but how, in Verse four, the tide of battle turned.
The fifth verse describes how Zeus came to their aid.
The sixth details the deaths of those who assaulted each of the seven gates of Thebes and ends by describing the deaths of the two brothers at each others' hand.
The seventh celebrates their release from fighting and joy at their victory.
The eighth is a complete change of tone - we move from the Chorus' role as storytellers to their role as characters in the action - elders of Thebes who have been called to a meeting by Creon. They wonder what he wants to see them about.
This abrupot change of mood, from formal 'song' to informal, even chatty, characters in the play, might give a clue as to a way of performing this and other sections. Consider using the Chorus in quite a physical theatre way, moving together often in a formal, movement-orientated way, then breaking apart to become separate individuals on the changes of mood. Clearly this is what was done somehow originally. So why not now?
If the stage is empty for the duologue between Ismene and Antigone, how would you get the Chorus on? Try having them coming from different parts of the offstage area - some singly, some in small groups, as if coming from their homes or various parts of the city. The first verse could be sharing their general relief with each other, so that a couple, for instance, coming on from one part calls over first to the front, where the sunlight is streaming from, and then to a group entering elsewhere...'the fairest sun that ever has dawned...' [brightest of all...' Penguin line 117] as if sharing the mood of relief, nodding and smiling at each other until they end up, by the end of the verse in a more formalised grouping - so as to start the description of the battle all together.
Alternatively, if you fancy the idea of a stage littered with victims of the battle and their mourners, so that Antigone and Ismene's duologue happens in a tense close whisper, or lowered voices which take them to an area of the stage away from other people, the Chorus could simply rub their eyes, pull each other up, stretch, etc. as if with the light of day they realise gradually their good fortune and move blinking into the light. Then the words that are spoken are still divided up as above, but with even more awe and relief.
Find suitable places where divisions could be made in this first verse for individuals to speak. Then try this verse with both of the suggested ways of entering.
If the next three verses are a more formal description of the battle, there are a number of ways of dealing with this. The most obvious is to have the chorus in a close grouping, quite formalised, facing out front, then speaking all together. Try this out now as, for example:
- standing in a formation based on lines, making sure that all are visible
- based on rounded shapes - circles, half-circles, etc.
- standing in a tight group, crowded together, on different levels [e.g. front bent at the knees,next row bent over them, last row straight behind, all heads very close together]
- standing in a random shape devised by you
To speak the words successfully, you need to find the words and phrases that are to be emphasised, as anchors for the whole group to land on. Working together as a group:
a. find the rhythm of the lines - where the stresses lie. Mark the stress
points in your text with pencil strokes like a dash above the stressed syllable,
or by underlining the syllable. For instance:
He had come to destroy us in Polyneices'
Fierce quarrel. He brought them against our land...'
['And he had driven against our borders,
launched by the warring claims of Polynices...' Penguin lines 125-6]
[Note that I am not following the rhythm necessarily of the verse; sometimes a word or image is startling and needs the emphasis dramatically; sometimes also a good clue can be hard consonants, or drawn-out vowels.]
Divide the group into two and have one half working on the 'he had come to destroy us...' verse and the other working on 'Close he hovered... up to 'sons of a Dragon.' [Penguin= first verse 'And he had driven against...' 2nd verse: 'he hovered above our roofs...' to ... thunder at his back.']
Have each group first working on which words they would stress, making sure
that any powerful images are emphasised in this way.
Then they should try speaking their verse all together, bringing out the stresses with their voices.
Thirdly, try standing up in their formalised grouping and putting the verses over. See how together the voices can sound. Don't compete with each other - the voices need to blend so closely they sound like one voice.
Fourthly experiment with 'colouring'. That is, having some phrases or even single words spoken by one person, or just a small number, some by the whole group. See if you can emphasise the imagery better this way.
An example might be; Single voice: 'He brought them against our land: ' another voice: 'And like some... 'several voices '...eagle, screaming his rage...' etc.
[Single voice: 'And he had driven against our borders, ' second voice 'launched by the warring claims of Polynices' third voice like an ...' several voices:...'eagle screaming, winging...' all voices 'havoc...' etc. Penguin] Try this out for yourselves now, using your allocated verse.
Lastly, see what actions suggest themselves to you for your verse. Don't over do it. It might be that you want simple movements on single words or phrases, such as lifting the arms for wings on eagle screaming...' and so on. Actually, the second of the two verses suggests far more movement, describing as it does a very active part of the battle.
Consider 'acting out' the battle for this verse in the following way:
- 'Close he hovered above our houses' the group draw into a tight knot
- Circling around our seven gates.. the group make a threatening circular movement with their hands and wrists
- Spears that thirsted.... the group, who are elders and some of whom will have sticks, raise them as spears confronting the audience threateningly... etc. [The wording of the Penguin is slightly different, but similar enough for you to see the sort of thing.]
Try this out as an example only - and see what ideas you can come up with too.
I am not going to go into such detail over every one of the Chorus sections, but I think it is imperative that you start from the beginning thinking of the sort of presentation you want to make of them.
What has begun to emerge from the above exploration of this first Choric interlude, is a mixture of 'characters' - Theban elders, who have suffered in a battle and lost loved ones, who are battle-stained and weary and relieved - and a group entity who move and speak as one. I don't think the one idea precludes the other at all. I feel that this is one approach that can work.
Of course, there are many other ways of doing this. You could cut movement to a minimum and concentrate on dividing the lines up between different elders telling the audience the story of what happened, and this could work very well also. Try this out, too, dividing the verses up logically between people - or for greater realism, having some words overlapped, as one person eagerly takes over the story from another, overlapping on a single word or phrase.You will find this will entail nods and smiles at each other as they put the story together, as well as speaking to the audience.
You could even have a Chorus of only two people to cover Creon addressing them as 'My lords.' Some productions have done this - making them kind of elder statesman characters.
Discuss all your options and decisions before moving on.
Now take the rest of the choric verses through the same process. Look back at the moods decided on for each verse and ensure that your manner of doing it will bring out the sense of triumph or relief as appropriate.
Consider having two people acting out the last part of the battle between Polynices and Eteocles - this could be in a kind of dumb-show, perhaps on a higher level - or two members of the Chorus themselves stepping out of character. The voices should drop to one of sorrow as they contemplate the two brothers' fate.