The Gospel at Colonus is a curious blend of the ancient Greek drama of Sophocles and a modern gospel musical. The text is an adaptation of Sophocles’ Oidipous epi Kolni (401 b.c.e.; Oedipus at Colonus, 1729), the second play in the cycle of the Theban Trilogy, although it makes references to certain occurrences in both Oidipous Tyrannos (c. 429 b.c.e.; Oedipus Tyrannus, 1715) and Antigon (441 b.c.e.; Antigone, 1729). The immediate setting of The Gospel at Colonus is a black Pentecostal church service, where the play opens with the black preacher taking the text for his sermon from the “Book of Oedipus.” Through flashback, musical performance, and dance, the audience is transported back in time to the suffering of Oedipus, the King of Thebes’ self-imposed banishment from his home city, and his difficult journey in search of sanctuary. Oedipus’s journey and his constant suffering are dramatized in the audience’s imagination as the Pentecostal preacher re-creates the classic story of redemption through suffering.
The first scene shows Oedipus on the road, accompanied by his younger daughter, Antigone, as he approaches the gates of Colonus, the city in which he will ultimately be granted a resting place. Although the townspeople attempt to refuse his entry out of fear that his sins will...
(The entire section is 581 words.)