Local Press on 'Medea & Jason' - A fresh take on love gone wrong
Apr 16, 2009
IWCC stages modern version of Greek mythology’s ‘Medea and Jason’
By Kim Bousquet, Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, April 16, 2009 4:21 PM CDT
“There are many versions of a story,” the cast of “Medea and Jason, The Rubicon Waltz” say in unison. That’s the idea behind the new show opening tonight at Iowa Western Community College.
The story of Medea – the woman who in ancient stories may have killed her children and her brother – is a messy tale of betrayal. Greek dramatist Euripides’ version of her story has widely been the accepted version, but there have been many variations.
The new play, “Medea and Jason, The Rubicon Waltz,” being staged tonight through April 25 at Black Box Theatre in the Arts Center at IWCC, explores these variations and the Greek myths and legends leading up to Medea’s fateful actions.
It’s what playwright Matthew Everett described as an epic love story gone wrong.
The creation of Everett’s version of “Medea and Jason” was years in the making. The first version of the play was written years ago when Everett and Martin Scott Marchitto, the director from the play, were in graduate school. When Marchitto arrived on the IWCC campus in March 2008, he saw “Medea” was on the bill for IWCC’s Theatre Department, but a translation hadn’t been selected.
He thought of his old friend, and eventually, a script evolved. It will premiere for the first time in Council Bluffs.
“Few (students) have the opportunity to work with an established playwright,” said Marchitto.
Everett, who holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama, is the recipient of a Drama-Logue Award for Outstanding Writing for “Theater Heaven and Home”; a three-time recipient of support from the Minnesota State Arts Board and a 2007 Artist Initiative Grant, among many honors. His play “Leave” was recently listed as one of the Top 10 Theater Productions of 2008 by Lavender Magazine.
In February, Everett visited IWCC’s campus to work with the cast. They worked on re-writes and answered questions from the cast. It was also a chance for Everett and Marchitto to get the cast up to speed on the background of the Greek story, something Marchitto believes is important for the actors to learn.
“(Everett) gave us his ideas on how he thought it should be portrayed,” said Jacque Stanfield of Omaha, who plays the title character, Medea.
The experience was great for the music-major-turned-actress, and she said it helped knowing things about the play and the playwright’s point-of-view.
The result of Everett’s work with the cast and director is a dark comedy featuring modern takes of well-known Greek legends like Jason and the Argonauts and Hercules as well as a few of the more obscure mythical characters, such as Castor and Polydeuces.
In the playwright’s statement on the show, Everett wrote, “By putting Medea’s actions in the larger context of her whole life: The quest for the Golden Fleece, her relationship with Jason, the things that happened after the killings and toying with the many different paths the story takes, I hope we gain a greater understanding of her and the reasons we tell the stories we do. Fathoming the unfathomable.”
“It’s a very good story for people with an open mind,” said one of the actors, Alex Bridgman of Omaha. Stanfield added that the show was “pretty graphic” at times, including a rape scene.
During a recent rehearsal, the young cast of “Medea and Jason” hammered out its footing on stage. The words were less textbook-Greek mythology and more modern and familiar. During the show, the audience will hear “stuff” and language not found in textbooks, but will make the story more understandable and entertaining for a new generation of theater-goers.
“Everything is modern and really cool,” said Stanfield.
Marchitto said it was important to do a piece that was assessable to the audience, but the show still has a lot of elements of a Greek play.
“It’s more enjoyable for the audience,” said Marchitto.
The cast includes Stanfield as Medea and Eddie Wayne of Omaha as Jason, as well as Matt Thompson of LaVista, Neb., Caleb Boden of Glenwood, Mary Slater of Glenwood, Chris Gartner of Fremont, Neb., Cheyne King of Omaha, Dustyn Hawley of Omaha and Alex Bridgman of Omaha. Samuel Planck, 10, and Robert Moller, 11, both from Omaha, are also in the production.
To aid transitions in the production, two musicians, Anthony Holmes of Omaha and Brad Chapin of Council Bluffs, sit on stage and play the cello and drum.
The seven-member technical crew is a mix of students and professionals. Since moving to Omaha last March, the show’s director, Marchitto, has designed sets for the Blue Barn Theatre and for Bridget St. Bridget. The set and lighting designer, Carl Dumicich, is IWCC’s Department of Theatre chair and has worked as a set designer, scenic artist and technical director on various productions in New York. Costume designer for the production is Jennifer Pool, who is in her third year as an instructor and costume designer at IWCC.
IWCC Department of Theatre’s “Medea and Jason, The Rubicon Waltz” opens tonight and runs through April 25 with performances Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre in the Arts Center located on the college’s Council Bluffs campus.
Starting Friday, artwork by IWCC faculty members will be in the lobby and available for auction, according to Dumicich.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors, TAG members and non-IWCC students. To reserve tickets, call the box office at (712) 388-7140.