When Brown University shut down in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Medea was two weeks into a seven-week rehearsal process. Coming to the end of our second year, the cast and I were looking forward to our first show in the Pell Chafee performance center at Brown-Trinity, with full design support. Our approach to this Greek tragedy was centered around investigating the story of Medea, a foreign princess-quartergod-sorceress who has been displaced and replaced, as a woman waging a war of honor. We were working from multiple translations, archaic and contemporary, actor-generated text, and outside source text to create a new translation that would feel true to the artists that made it and the event that we would share with the audience. Alas, our “meat coachella” wasn’t going to materialize in the way that we had hoped, but we used our last rehearsal, an open studio with our school community, to take a big, bloody, improvised bite out of the play: performing the whole thing with no set text or staging. We had scripts and books on stage, rehearsal props, costumes pulled from home, clip-light lighting, iTunes for sound, and an audience who could enact compositional rules (“run as fast as you can,” “do it in the dark,” “take a solo”) at any time. Though this performance was not anything like what we had imagined, it was also not anything like what we could imagine.
CAST: Madeleine Barker (The Children and The Messenger), Jihan Haddad (The Nurse and The Chorus), Jessica Smith (Medea), Rodney Witherspoon II (The Tutor, Creon, Aegeus, Jason)
Featured image courtesy of Aileen Wen McGroddy