Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Toward a minor theatre: Myriam Ben's algerian antigone

Caroline Kelley


In this paper, I read Myriam Ben’s Leïla, poème scénique en deux actes et un prologue as a reinterpretation of Sophocles’ Antigone. I contend that this blend of Algerian theatre, history and Greek tragedy yields a variety of ‘minor theatre’ that sets out to undermine established dramaturgical structures and prevailing historical narratives about the Algerian Revolution (1954-1962). Working in the outline of a canonical work, the playwright decentres the classic tragedy by way of a thought-provoking technical adaptation while, at the same time, refuting the fictions shrouding the events of the liberation struggle, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) and, especially, the military overthrow of President Ahmed Ben Bella by his Defence Minister Houari Boumediene in 1965. Despite the specificity of its context, however, the allegorical nature of the play allows for a sense of universality. While its milieu is undoubtedly post-revolution Algeria, the story it communicates might take place in any country past or present –dictatorships not being limited to North Africa.

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