Medea is a classic tragedy, most recently performed by the National Theatre and translated by Ben Power, whose translation we are using in this production. While there are many themes that are certainly still relevant today, there are of course some aspects firmly stuck in the 5th century BCE. Namely: absolute monarchy and polytheism. To work around these issues, and place them in a modern context, we have made characters like King Creon have a more illegal influence; making him a more menacing character for today. Medea’s religion is clearly very important to her and adds a layer to her character which is difficult for us to understand. In our version we make her proclamations much more superstitious, and have the chorus react accordingly.
Immigration and the treatment of foreigners has been a controversial topic over the last few years and many similarities can be struck between the hostility Medea receives and the reluctance modern countries exhibit towards fleeing migrants. We intend to express this by the use of levels and costume, helping to stress her alienation.
The role of the Chorus has always been to provide a bridge for the audience, and although our version of Medea has been modernised, this remains the same. The Chorus are shown as ordinary ‘people on the street’ through multi rolling, which also emphasises the fickleness of their opinions, further accentuating Medea’s isolation. They respond to Medea’s actions as we would, at first with support for her revenge, but eventually they are unable to defend her continuing violence towards the children. We hope that our representation of Medea’s furthering desperation will instil pity in the audience.
One of our key challenges was portraying Medea’s children, which we have overcome through the use of shadows, which adds an extra distance as Medea pushes them away. The most interesting part of her character is that although she makes ill-judged and violent decisions, she can still make them, inflicting her warped power over a male dominated world.
Our aim is to bring this devastating tragedy into the modern day and make our audience feel, as the ancient Greeks did, that this situation could happen to any of us. Personal connection is paramount to Greek tragedy and we hope that this tragedy keeps you enthralled throughout.
We would like to thank our amazing cast and crew for bringing this play to life and specifically: our Technical Director Helena Trebichavska for her enduring patience, Hannah’s dissertation supervisor Dr Sarah Miles for her invaluable help throughout the rehearsal process, and Ginny for the music help.
‘Medea’ is on at 19:30, 13th-15th December at Assembly Rooms Theatre.