She’s a jealous, murderous witch.At least, that’s what everyone says about her. But what if the infamous Medea, betrayed wife and mother of Greek mythology, could tell her own story? That premise is explored in an original production, “Medea: Her Story,” which opens tonight at the University of Idaho’s Hartung Theater.
With her to tell the story is a band of fighting Argonauts, an 80-gallon ritual pool and fire-breathing bulls, which utilize percussive, choral and dance-like elements to create a gigantic monster. Those bulls are a small part of Medea’s story, but a pivotal one.
“It’s a huge moment,” said Matt Foss, director.
That’s where Medea’s wisdom and abilities are displayed, he explained, and where the audience sees the growing respect and affection between Medea and her husband.
Besides stylized monsters, the show is full of lights, projection, fabric and music that come together to create a dramatic, intense, no-intermission show that Foss described as “one race of an act.”
“It’s highly kinetic,” Foss said. “But even the still scenes are charged with energy.”
The original adaptation of Medea’s story is a collaboration of UI students and faculty, including Foss, Kelly Quinnett and Jesse Dreikosen, which began with extensive research. Euripides was among the first to portray Medea as a witch, Foss said, around 400 B.C. While his version of the story is most common, Foss said, other versions speak of Medea as a politically powerful woman, a healer and a compassionate mother who ended up in a difficult situation.
“There’s all this complexity that got removed by calling her a witch, making it about sex and jealousy,” Foss said.
Starting with these myths, the script was built from the ground up. The result is a telling based in the present, with memories of the past. Medea is played by Quinnett, an actress of “incredible skill,” Foss said.
“We’re hoping that as Medea goes back through her story, sees these patterns of how men and women treat each other, the audience can connect the dots that will speak to their own experience,” Foss said.
Starting from scratch means the entire show — from the script to costume to sets and stylized elements — has been a creative, collaborative progress involving many people, an amount that Foss said has seemed to snowball. And it’s not until tonight that the last piece of the collaboration will show up, he said, referring to the audience.
The show is intended for adult audiences, due to language, adult and complex ideas and stylized violence.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: “Medea: Her Story”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and Oct. 20-22, 2 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 23
WHERE: Hartung Theater, 625 Stadium Drive, Moscow
COST: $15/general, $10/seniors, UI staff and faculty, free/UI students; tickets available in advance at BookPeople of Moscow and UI Theatre Arts at (208) 885-6465 or at the door, 60 minutes before curtain.