The play has four scenes. It opens with a lengthy mimed sequence in which John and Winston, two cell mates imprisoned on Robben Island, shovel sand in the scorching heat, dumping the sand at the feet of the other man, so that the pile of the sand never diminishes. This is designed to exhaust the body and the morale of the prisoners. Later scenes include a play within a play, as Winston and John perform a condensed two-person version of Antigone by Sophocles.
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