Next week, Saint Mary’s Department of Theatre and Dance will present the world premiere of Medea: A Virgin’s Voice, a dark and moving story of greed, faith, and a mother’s love. The show premieres on Thursday, Nov. 5 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 8.
There are two versions of Medea in existence, one by the Greek writer Euripides, the other by the Roman playwright Seneca. The Euripides version is more commonly known, but it is Seneca’s version that Modern & Classical Languages lecturer Dr. David Hillman has been working on translating for over a year. Hillman has always admired Seneca’s version and wanted to translate it so that English-speaking audience members could see and understand it as well.
Seneca’s version of Medea, while less known than the Euripides one, is a beautiful play that aims to change worldviews. Hillman, himself an expert in Latin, hopes that his translation will allow for new audience members to understand the subtleties of Seneca’s original work while still seeing the relevance of the story in today’s world.
For director Judy Myers, this new version of Medea had the passion and moving storyline of a mainstage play, and also offered a great opportunity for female theatre majors to take on starring roles. Anne Colling and Danielle Laferriere play the major female roles of Medea and the Servant, respectively. The story centers on Medea, a young woman whose husband has just left her for a younger girl. Betrayed by her husband, Medea must make the choice between abandoning all she has held dear and committing the ultimate sacrifice.
Colling, who has been working tirelessly to present her version of Medea’s character to the audience, compared much of her character’s traits to the Virgin Mary. As she describes it, much of Medea’s motivations throughout the play come from her identity as a mother. Do not expect the delicate flower of Mary, but rather the strong, mother figure that raised up a religion.
Hillman describes the character of Medea as “the most powerful figure of Greco-Roman mythical tradition,” and this play certainly showcases this. Christianity and pagan religions intertwine in this story of a virgin’s power and commitment to healing the corrupt world she has found herself a part of.
Incorporating music and dance elements through a collaborative process with the cast and crew, this play aims to be an enlightening experience for those who approach it with an open mind. Hillman has requested that audience members understand that “you cannot watch this play without being affected. You have to make a decision.”
Due to violence and sexually suggestive images, “Medea” is not recommended for children younger than 13. Viewer discretion is advised.