Medea: a Noh Cycle Based on the Greek Myth

by  Carol Sorgenfrei, Euripides

Full Length Play, Drama  /  1m, 3f, 6m or f, 2boy(s) or girl(s)

"Strikingly fresh ... theatrically arresting ... striking achievement." - Washington Post

How could a woman who killed her children be saved by the gods? The shocking ending of Euripides' play is the starting point for a meditation on modern woman and the role of the artist/shaman in a synthesis of classic Greek and Japanese Noh Theatre.

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Medea: a Noh Cycle Based on the Greek Myth

by  Carol Sorgenfrei Euripides

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Medea: a Noh Cycle Based on the Greek Myth

  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    1m, 3f, 6m or f, 2boy(s) or girl(s)
  • Duration

    Duration

    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Experimental
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    KCACTF: Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival New Play
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

How could a woman who killed her children be saved by the gods? The shocking ending of Euripides' play is the starting point for a meditation on modern woman and the role of the artist/shaman. This synthesis of classic Greek and Japanese Noh Theatre retains the basic story of the former but is performed in a creative, stylized manner inspired by the latter, with chant, song and dance. These two theatre forms have many similarities - both are non-illusionistic and both grew out of religious ceremony and ritual - drawing on primitive myths and legends. In Japan the Noh plays have no thematic relation, but this play consists of five scenes - each corresponding to one of the traditional plays to form a single entity. This work offers exceptional opportunities for creativity and artistic innovation to directors, actors and designers.
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Accolades

  • Winner! 1974 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, National Student Playwriting Award

Reviews

"...an arrestingly dramatic production.... a hypnotic mood of sacred ritual... gripping... " - StarTribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul

"Strikingly fresh ... theatrically arresting ... striking achievement." - Washington Post

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Outdoor
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

Cautions

  • Caution Strong Language Strong Language
  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: Not Applicable
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: The play takes place in mythic Greece, but there should be NO realism. Ideally, the stage should suggest a Noh stage. The designer should consider the use of strong, creative lighting effects. Basically a bare space or one that is abstract or suggestive. Innovative, fusion costuming suggesting both Greece and Japan, use of Japanese fans for dance sequenes. May use non-illusionistic makeup or masks. Many opportunities for creative visual spectacle in terms of quick, onstage costume transformations, lighting, flowing fabric, projections, etc. 
  • Additional Features: Play w/ Music, Stage Combat, Special Effects
  • Features / Contains: Elaborate / High Volume Costumes, Fantasy Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Chorus Size: Small

Casting

1m, 3f, 6m or f, 2boy(s) or girl(s)

MEDEA - strong-willed woman, artist-shaman, sexual, an outsider revealed to be a goddess
JASON - an ambitious "hero" who owes everything to the intervention of the gods and the help of Medea, revealed to be a demon in disguise
NURSE - timid, conventional and loyal, but eventually discovers her own strength as a woman
CREUSA - a simpering, vain, unaware princess
CHORUS MEMBERS - require exceptional speaking voices
CHILDREN - cloying and grasping, played by non-speaking dancers able to enact various other roles (ex: magic bulls)

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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

Casting Notes

The two children (and various other roles) are played by non-speaking dancers, not child actors. The chorus can range in size, from approximatel 3-8 voices. All actors except the chorus must be able to move creatively in dance-like patterns.   

Resources

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Authors

Carol Sorgenfrei

Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei, born January 14, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois, is a playwright, director, and scholar of Japanese and cross-cultural performance. Her fifteen original plays include the award-winning Medea: ...

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Euripides

Euripides

1974-5 University of California at Santa Barbara; California State University at Los Angeles; and Kennedy Center, Washington, DC  - Winner, Best Original Play, American College Theatre Festival. Directed by the author. 

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