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A Reading of Colm Tóibín’s “Pale Sister” by Lisa Dwan

Lisa Dwan, Class of 1932 Visiting Fellow in the Humanities Council

November 23, 2020 · 5:00 pm · Webinar

Department of English; Humanities Council

Written especially for Lisa Dwan, Class of 1932 Visiting Fellow in the Humanities Council. Pale Sister reimagines Sophocles’s Antigone from the point of view of her sister, Ismene. The play follows Ismene as she recounts her sister’s infamous defiance of their uncle, the king of Thebes, and decides what to do as the pressure mounts on the submissive young woman to act. The production was born from a semester-long course Tóibín and Dwan taught at Columbia University, exploring Antigone’s story and its adaptation through history. 

Colm Tóibín is one of Ireland’s most celebrated living authors, known for his novels including The Master, Nora Webster, The Testament of Mary, and Brooklyn, which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Saoirse Ronan and Domnhall Gleeson. Tóibin has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times and has received numerous awards, including the Costa Novel Award, the International Dublin Literary Award, the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award, the Stonewall Book Award, and the Irish Pen Award. 

Award winning stage, film, and TV actress, Lisa Dwan, is best known for her acclaimed performances in adaptations of Samuel Beckett’s works. Her sold-out tour of “The Beckett Trilogy” in the United States received rave reviews, with the New York Timesdescribing her as “an instrument of Beckett in the way saints and martyrs are said to be instruments of god.” Dwan won the Emery Battis award for her performance in Harold Pinter’s The Lover and The Collection at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Dwan adapted and starred in No’s Knife at Old Vic Theatre and Abbey Theatre, making her the first woman to perform Beckett’s Stories and Texts for Nothing. As part of her “Greek series” Dwan is currently in production to film Pale Sister for the BBC and collaborating with Margaret Atwood on a new version of Medea and with Salman Rushdie on a Helen of Troy. Dwan regularly lectures internationally on theatre and Beckett. Presently the Class of 1932 Visiting Fellow in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University, Dwan is currently starring in Netflix’s Top Boy for Netflix.  Following their recent success on Beckett’s shorts including “Eh Joe,” Dwan will once again team up with Sir Trevor Nunn to play Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days in February 2021.

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