A troupe of actors gather together to perform the legend of Medea, the infamous sorceress who killed her own children out of jealousy and rage, and Jason, the hero famed for capturing the fabled Golden Fleece. “You may think you know the story we are here to tell,” the Chorus Leader exhorts the audience, “but this is not what you think.” As the play-within-a-play unfolds, with music, dance, and highly theatrical imagery, it becomes clear that an inner fire drives the Chorus Leader to revisit the haunted past.
This play is not an adaptation of Euripides, but a completely new approach to this mythic tale. And although the story of Jason and Medea is ancient, it reverberates with timeless themes: The woman who gives everything of herself to help her husband rise to power, only to be replaced by a younger, prettier new wife. The damage done to children caught between warring parents. The marginalization of those who are considered different and lesser. The price one pays for compulsively repeating a story of woe without ever learning from it. For the Chorus Leader herself is Medea, older but no wiser, desperate to have her side of the story witnessed and understood, and so doomed to relive again and again her lover’s betrayal and the killing of her children by her own hand.
- Female: 7
- Male: 3
- Total roles: 10
- She is the only character who is not part of the Chorus and is regarded by them as an outsider, strange and intimidating. She is strong, passionate, fierce.
- Chorus Leader
- An older woman who conducts the Chorus. She directs the action with a strong hand and is emotionally drawn into the onstage play.
- Chorus 1/Jason
- A young man, handsome, impulsive, dashing. Boyish at first, coming into his own as a hero and leader.
- Chorus 2/Creon/Various
- A dignified man, rather snooty, secure in his kingliness. Gracious until displeased, then cold and severe. He knows the heaviness of a crown.
- Chorus 3/Creusa/Various
- A beautiful young woman with a sirenic demurity. She holds herself slightly apart from the rest of the Chorus. Although she seems modest, she knows she is royalty.
- Chorus 4/Son/Various
- The Chorus Leader’s daughter, a young teen. She and Chorus 5 are not twins but, unless otherwise indicated, they speak and move in perfect synch. They are eager to take roles and show themselves off.
- Chorus 5/Son/Various
- Chorus 4’s sister. Together they play Medea’s sons in the play-within-a-play.
- Chorus 6/Ageus/Various
- A fussy older man, dry and stiff. He loves accuracy, precision and predictability, and takes pride in his work.
- Chorus 7/Nurse
- Older than Medea. She is compassionate and sympathetic, and knows hers is a role of powerless subservience.
- Chorus 8/Narrator
- Older than Chorus Leader, weary and worn. There is a sense of history between her and Chorus Leader, and not necessarily a happy one. Hers is a large but roughened heart.
Setting & Set Requirements
Flexible space, a few furniture pieces. All stage effects are created by the characters.
- 2015 – Forest Hills School District, OH
- 2011 – Theater 9/12, Seattle, WA
Chorus Leader: (to the audience) “What is this?” you ask. “A bare stage. Unoccupied chairs. An empty theater. These are not the stuff of great and tragic stories such as I have come to see.” Ah, but the theater is not empty, for you are here. You, whose very heartbeat fills this sacred space with the animating energy that brings us players to life. You, without whom we vanish into the hoary mists of antiquity. We enact our story for you, playing our roles as warriors and maidens, princesses and slaves, kings and children, no matter that it costs us dear in tears and blood.