Inspired and adapted from “Antigone” – a work of Sophocles, the play called “The Portrait” by Saigon Theaterland will be premiered on the stage online while the recorded play and a meeting with artists will be live-streamed. 

Actress Thanh Truc plays Nhi in “The Portrait”. Photo: Saigon Theaterland 

The live performance will take place in Ho Chi Minh City on February 26, while the recorded play and the meeting will take place on the Meta stream application and Google Meet at 3 p.m. on March 5.

“The Portrait” play is created within the framework of the cultural cooperation project between Germany and Vietnam in 2021-2022.

The content of the play revolves around the character An and her arduous journey of fighting for her faith and love. An convinces his sister (Nhi) to find a way to evade the decree banning the burial of enemy corpses to entomb her deceased brother – a North Vietnamese soldier. However, directly confronting and preventing their decisions is their authoritarian father (Mr. Dac), a senior officer in the army of the South.

Amidst the tragedy of the family and the times, An is alone overcoming the loss, facing the hard present, and making the decisions for her own future.

The play director Le An said that Saigon Theatreland finds the affinities between the original screenplay by Sophocles’ Antigone and the social context and people’s suffering in the heart of Saigon in the 1970s. “Therefore, we decide to create a Vietnamese version of the Greek story,” she stated.

The participants who joined the project of “The Portrait” play. Photo: Saigon Theatreland

Antigone of Greek mythology is likened to the Kieu tale of Vietnam. Through “The Portrait”, women from all over the world can find the answers to the questions of “What can a human being do when fate has been arranged? Even if it is a tragedy, how will a person proceed in the journey to her own foreknown death?”

Antigone is a play by Sophocles (5th century BC), the foremost playwright of the city-state of Athens. For nearly two and a half thousand years, Antigone has inspired artists and cultural creators in the West and East to reflect on human nature and place in society.

Despite certain parallels with “the girl Kieu”, Antigone is completely different. Like Kieu, Antigone comes from a good home, makes a noble decision for moral reasons, and is then at the mercy of power structures and violence in her environment. Her attitude is both an example and a warning to us.
Antigone is about loyalty to family and state, about human dignity and social cohesion, about the course of history, and the importance of the individual in society. Or is everything predetermined by fate, after all?
The Goethe-Institut invites Vietnamese creatives to explore the meaning of the text for Vietnamese audiences at a symposium as well as through various artistic approaches to this great female character Antigone.