Years ago I taught the play Antigone by Sophocles. One of the characters is Ismene, the sister of Antigone. Ismene at first refused to join Antigone in breaking the law, but she was later willing to die with Antigone, who had been sentenced to death. Antigone rejected her offer, and Ismene was spared. We never learn in the play what ultimately happened to Ismene.
There is mention by a later Greek writer that she was murdered, but there are no other mentions of this in other myths and stories from that time.
So what happened to Ismene?She lingered in the back of my mind long after I left that school and no longer taught the play. I felt bad for her. She was not a bad person. I could understand the choices she made. I thought that she was unfairly overshadowed by her more dramatic sister. And I thought Antigone treated her shabbily when Ismene loyally and bravely offered to die with her. I also wondered about how the tragic curse on Oedipus' family would ultimately affect her.
About a decade ago, I actually got an idea for a play focusing on what became of her in the years after the events in Antigone. I even gathered a few notes and scribbled a few lines of dialogue.
Then life intervened.
In the form of other plays.
I began teaching at a school where I wrote all the school plays and dramatic performances. Stone Soup. Robin Hood. The Sick King. Two collections of skits. A draft of a play about the Erie Canal.
While cleaning a filing cabinet this summer I stumbled across some of my Ismene notes. And this past week at my new school I discovered I was going to be teaching Antigone again after nearly 25 years.
The thought hit me: Maybe its time to finish that play.
Ismene may just get her chance to take center stage!