Theatrical Virtuoso Lisa Dwan Teaches Antigone

August 14, 2020
Lisa Dwan rehearsing Samuel Beckett's "No's Knife" at The Old Vic in London. Photo: Manuel Harlan

The Humanities Council and Department of English will welcome globally renowned Irish performer, director, writer and scholar Lisa Dwan as a Class of 1932 Visiting Fellow for the 2020–21 academic year. Famed for her solo performances of scripts by Samuel Beckett, as well as her interpretations of short pieces by Harold Pinter, she stars in “Top Boy” and “Bloodlands” on Netflix.

Lately, the roles of women like Antigone, Medea, and Helen of Troy in Greek plays have anchored much of Dwan’s work. In the fall of 2020, she will teach ENG 409 / THR 410 / HUM 409: “Topics in Drama: The Antigone Project.” The course will examine diverse versions of Antigone by Sophocles from different countries across the centuries, including interpretations by Jean Anouilh, Seamus Heaney, George Steiner, and Judith Butler. Discussions will probe the conflict between fear and conscience, the distance between powerlessness and power, and the speech of women amid hostility.

The class will offer an exceptional degree of contact with experts. Dwan will meet weekly with each of her students over Zoom to develop personal, academically fruitful relationships with them. Moreover, she will facilitate virtual dialogues with four visitors: Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley; Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Professor of International Law and Globalization at Birkbeck College, University of London; novelist Kamila Shamsie; and writer Colm Tóibín, whose repertoire spans journalism, theatre, fiction, and literary criticism.

On November 23, Dawn performs a reading of Pale Sister, written especially for her by Colm Tóibín.

Further integrating into the campus community, Dwan will serve as a guest speaker in other courses and offer workshops tailored to the interests of humanities students. Her efforts will receive support from the Council’s Eberhard L. Faber 1915 Fund.

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