After many years of teaching the classics at a New England university, Henry Harper is not surprised by much—and particularly not by precocious students who want to rewrite his beloved Greek masterpieces to reflect current sociopolitical concerns. So when a gifted young Jewish student, Judy Miller, announces that she intends to submit an updated, anti-nuclear version of Antigone in place of the formal paper he has assigned to her, Henry is adamant in his refusal. Unfortunately, Judy (who needs the credit from his course to graduate) is as stubborn as her professor, and when she resolves to defy him and produce her play on campus, tensions begin to mount. Judy also lodges a complaint with the university grievance committee, which elicits a visit from the dean not only to plead with Henry to soften his stand but also to warn him that accusations of anti-Semitism (however unfounded) have arisen. Before long it is evident that what is at issue for Henry is not just a matter of academic integrity but of his very livelihood. Inexorably, he feels himself becoming Creon to Judy's Antigone and, in the final essence, even his willingness to relent and give her a passing grade is insufficient to save him from the unhappy fate that must inevitably follow when conscience, for whatever good reasons, yields to expediency.
A witty, provocative and continually absorbing examination of some of the more vexing problems besetting present-day academe. An Off-Broadway success at Playwrights Horizons. "Gurney is writing a play for our times, particularly our academic times." —NY Post. "A synopsis can only hint at the romantic strength and richness of this splendid play…" —The New Yorker. "…there is an abundance of meaty, stimulating dialogue, filled with the sly wit that has become his trademark." —BackStage. "…witty observations from the front lines of those American universities now more preoccupied with fund raising and job placement than with the verities of a classical education." —NY Times.