The University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire’s theater department closes their fall season with the Greek Tragedy, Medea. This story centers around a woman named Medea and her revenge on her unfaithful husband, Jason. Medea draws attention to the gender roles in this society and the large gap in power between genders as well as how society reacts to “outsiders.”
The director of Medea, Arthur Grothe, agreed to an interview to delve into the artistic choices of this show.
Why did you choose Medea?
Several years ago the theatre division created a rotation for our play selection process. This was to ensure that over a four year span students had the opportunity to work on a variety of theatrical styles and genres. Specifically, I was drawn to Medea because it is a story that focuses on the plight of women during this time and many of the Greek plays do not. The play illustrates the idea that to be an outsider is to be considered less-than and when society casts out those who stand up for themselves, the results are often disastrous. Make no mistake Medea’s actions are horrible, but she was treated horribly. Delving into this story was a way to investigate how societal systems can push people to commit atrocities.
What do you think will speak to the audience with this production specifically?
I think that everyone today can relate, in some way, to being “the other.” Medea is very much the other in the Greek world. She is not a native Greek, she doesn’t understand the customs, has to conform to “fit in,” and is helpless against the order and control of the Greek system. She has to take matters into her own hands and commit horrible acts to exact “justice.” But, ultimately that “justice” comes with a heavy price. By the end of the play she is transformed by her hatred, unrecognizable to herself and those close to her. I think that all of us can learn from her story and take time to consider our actions – whether those actions strengthen existing systems of oppression or if our actions are transforming us into someone or something we no longer recognize.
Are there any unique aspects to the show you'd like readers to know about?
For the Greeks the theatre was a ritual and performing was considered a great honor. The use of masks was a vital part of this process. Actors would quite literally enter into their characters and the masks provided a freedom for the performers – the actor wasn’t committing a horrible act, the character was. We have chosen to embrace those traditions and the actors will perform in full masks for the show.
Medea will be performed at the Riverside Theater at Haas Fine Arts Building Wednesday, December 8th through Friday, December 10th at 7:30 PM and Saturday, December 11th and Sunday, December 12th at 1:30 PM.