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Off the Shelf
17-27 September 2020

Cassirer’s Oedipus: Distant Takes – Live Event

  • Extinction
  • Live
Thu 24 September, 4:15pm 45 minutes

At this live event, Dr Iona Hine and cast members discussed the process of turning Heinz Cassirer’s last work – an unpublished translation of Oedipus at Colonus – into an audio production.

The play was split into 11 chapters, playable as individual audio clips below. Each chapter is accompanied by a piece of artwork produced by Rachael McNiven, for the H.W. Cassirer Collection.

The project

Dr Iona Hine (School of English) had been digitising the works of the philosopher Heinz Cassirer when she discovered the unpublished script. Iona’s idea to get a local theatre group to record Cassirer’s lines gives us a unique opportunity to hear them and creates an invaluable digital resource for scholars.

The audio production

Introducing Oedipus at Colonus: The last work of Sophocles and H.W. Cassirer

Part 1: Drawing near to Athens, Oedipus and Antigone seek information from a stranger.

Part 2: The council of Colonus (Chorus) arrive — will they offer hospitality? – or will they be too horrified at this trespasser sitting in their sacred grove?

Part 3: Oedipus’s other daughter Ismene brings news from the oracle at Delphi. She will depart with instructions to placate the grove’s goddesses.

Part 4: What happened to Oedipus? What does he want from king Theseus? Will Athens offer him shelter?

Part 5: The Chorus regale Oedipus with the wonders of Colonus, until Creon arrives. Can he be trusted? Perhaps not, since he’s already abducted someone…

Part 6: Theseus arrives—whose side will he take? (The honourable one, of course.)

Part 7: The Chorus imagines the battle to recover the captives.  Restoring them, Theseus announces Oedipus has another suitor—will he grant an audience?

Part 8: The Chorus laments old age and esteem death, till Polyneices arrives. Can he persuade his father to support the planned war against his twin?

Part 9: A storm approaches, and with it, Oedipus’ death. He leads off Theseus & company, leaving the Chorus to plead for a gentle passing.

Part 10: A messenger brings news of Oedipus’ death, followed by weeping daughters, and finally Theseus, who counsels against further grieving. (Concludes with credits.)


You have been listening to Oedipus at Colonus, recorded in homes across South Yorkshire during Spring 2020, as part of the Heinz Cassirer project at the University of Sheffield.

Starring in Cassirer’s English translation of Sophocles’ Greek play, you heard:

  • Michael Newman as Oedipus
  • Julia Lockwood Byers as Antigone
  • Jim Buck as the Chorus, a collective of aged citizens of Colonus
  • David Stead as the Stranger, an unnamed inhabitant of Colonus, and Polyneices
  • Bathsheba Lockwood Brook as Ismene
  • Chris Brook as Theseus
  • Mitchell Nuttall as Creon
  • And Jack Cadman Dennis as the Messenger.

Actors’ lines were knit together with dedicated post-production and editing by Ellie Pickersgill with the support of Rob Hemus, from the University of Sheffield’s Theatre Studies team.

Original artwork was devised by Rachael McNiven for Seventy Seven Creations.

Cassirer’s script was prepared by Dr Iona Hine as part of the Heinz Cassirer project. It is available to read online as part of the digital Cassirer Collection hosted by the University of Sheffield.

Special thanks are due to Eric Bohun, for his contribution to casting.

This recording is copyright of the Cassirer Archive, University of Sheffield, 2020. The Archive exists thanks to the generosity of the late Ronald Weitzman, Heinz Cassirer’s friend and literary executor.

To learn about Cassirer, his life and works, visit the Cassirer Collection, care of Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies.

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