Complete Works Theatre Company bring life to the ancient Greek tragedy, Medea, later this month and the gloves are off because, as we know, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Director (and Artistic Director of CWTC) Andrew Blackman paints a vivid picture of the tempestuous Medea stating that most reported crimes of passion are perpetrated by men but occasionally we hear of a woman who’s suffering is so overwhelming that she commits the most horrible acts.
“Medea is the first woman in literature to stand up to the betrayals and subjugations wrought by the men in her life, all men of power and influence, in a revenge that is calculated and executed with icy efficiency,” says Blackman. “Her revenge is absolute but the price is that she loses (destroys!) all that she holds dear and knowingly sentences herself to a life of pain.”
What intrigues Blackman about Medea is what someone is willing to do when it appears there is nothing else left. When the only choices are to submit to one’s own destruction at the hands of your enemies, or to inflict that destruction upon them.
Euripides based his work on the myth of Jason and Medea and the play was first produced in 431 BCE and, according to Blackman, the themes that Euripides confronted his audience with two and a half thousand years ago are still being played out today, challenging us to ask; “has human nature really changed that much at all?”
“Passion and rage underpin a story of betrayal and revenge, but political and societal circumstances heavily influence the choices the characters make. Medea is a woman of extreme passion and a foreigner; an exile seeking asylum and in need of friends. She is viewed with suspicion because of her ‘otherness’ and also because she is intelligent, manipulative and ultimately dangerous – especially to men. What constitutes justice in an unjust society? Are the actions of a single emboldened female the result of the hypocritical values and moral bankruptcy of those in power, or is she and she alone responsible for her actions and their terrible consequences?
” Blackman has chosen to stick with an English translation of the play in it’s entirety, “…so form and style are an interesting challenge; particularly as the play was written to be staged at an outdoor amphitheatre in late spring, and not proscenium arch theatres during a cold Melbourne winter. The original Greek chorus consisted of fifteen dancers and a Choral leader; interpreting its role with a production cast of five is hurdle as well.”
Complete Works Theatre Company has been widely recognised for many years as one of Melbourne’s leading Theatre in Education companies, but are also known for their general public productions.
Blackman, who graduated from NIDA in 1990, started CWTC late in 1999 after working as an actor for six months on Neighbours as Mike Healy.
“Desperate to work on some of the great plays with characters of depth and complexity, I teamed up with Medea cast member, Phil Cameron-Smith to work on Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. The task then was to find an audience. After a few years of struggle to get the company up an running we have become a integral part of the teaching and learning programs of Victorian secondary schools, employing two full time staff and a team of twenty performers, designers and practioners to stage six productions this year.”
The aims, philosophies and goals of CWTC are to provide high quality productions of contemporary and classical theatre for metropolitan and regional audiences.
“We have a strong commitment to engendering a love of theatre among teenagers and young adults, and work to ensure that arts professionals have the opportunity to exercise their craft.”
Blackman would like to see the company expand beyond its current core business and audience base to include new works, and different art forms.
“I’d like to create an environment that allows talented young performers, designers and artists the opportunity to create work that can be experienced nationally and internationally.”
July 28 – 31