Medea
The Club
January 13 - 30, 2005
Thursday - Saturday 10:00pm
Sunday - 5:30pm
Tickets $15
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Conceived and Directed: Jay Scheib
Scenic design:Michael Byrnes
Costume design:Oana Botez-Ban
Lighting design:Lucrecia Briceno
Assistant director:Shira Milikowsky
Production manager:Mercedes Murphy

Box office 212.475.7710

Director Jay Scheib applied lessons in plot development from the modern detective novel in planning his adaptation of "Medea." Using a verse text based on Heiner Müller, Euripides and Seneca, enhanced by operatic songs and heightened by multimedia, he intends to put suspense back in the tale by playing the myth backwards. Medea's children are killed at the beginning of the play and the climax is Jason leaving his wife at the end. With the familiar narrative landmarks reversed, the real power of the piece is that it is making a play about Medea's decisions, more like a character study than a tale of fate.

The resulting production, named "The Medea," will be the second La MaMa production of Actors without Borders-ITONY (International Theater of New York), a new resident company of La MaMa headed by Zishan Ugurlu, a member of La MaMa's Great Jones Repertory. The troupe's name is an acronymic dedication to the Gengi Ito (1946-2001), the late beloved La MaMa musician and composer. Last season, the group had its debut production at La MaMa with "Last Supper" by Lars Norén, directed by Ugurlu.

Adapter/director Scheib writes, " What I hope to achieve in reversing the story—by running it in reverse—is to reveal a gripping examination of the process leading to Medea’s slaughter of her two sons, a king and his daughter, and her brother. "Medea" is a play about passionate ambition and irreversible decisions. The details of these decisions are what interest me. They are made all the more horrific by our knowledge of their outcome. I take my cue from the detective story. We experience the presence of the end already in the beginning—but we read it anyway. She hid the knife under the bed, a corpse is in the closet. She’s going to sleep with the detective and he’s going to lose his job but he’ll bust her in the end—and we knew it all already, and we are glued to the unfolding of events—and this is what interests me. Suspense. We all know how Medea ends. We barely remember how it starts. I want to strike suspense into the heart of what we are making—the horrific revelation, the bloodied footprints in the hall, fear, paralysis, paroxysms of nausea—suspense in the camera angles—suspense in the use of time. Suspense and her great accomplice—broken expectation—these are the tools of our experiment."

The structure of the piece is experimental, but the language is classical. The text is primarily in verse and is a compilation of a variety of sources, including 18th cent translations of the plays by Euripides and Seneca and Scheib's own English translation of an old German verse translation by Franz Grillparzer, who wrote several Medea plays. There are also lengthy excerpts from Heiner Müller's three-part, apocalyptic telling of the Medea story: "Despoiled Shore," "Medeamaterial" and "Landscape with Argonauts." Scheib has woven the pieces together in collaboration with dramaturg Peter Campbell.

Stylistically, the play slips from theater to opera to cinema to a hybrid-kind-of-dance theater. There are original songs composed and performed by Margareth Kammerer, who is known in Europe for her "Oblique Pop-Songs" and hybrid operatic vocal arrangements. Kammerer combines selections from Cherubini's 18th century "Médée" (Medea) with chorus texts from Müller, Grillpazer, Euripides and Seneca into an original score for solo voice and electric guitar. Video design by Leah Gelpe involves positioning cameras inside a classical Greek Skene such that some parts of the play are done as if on a miniature sound stage, with scenes being taped and projected at the same time. There are two live handheld cameras; One is operated by a cameraperson. The other camcorder is operated by Media's two sons, who are making "home movies" that actually end with their own deaths.

The title role will be played by Zishan Ugurlu, founder of Actors without Borders-ITONY. The other actors are Dan Illian as Jason, Aimee McCormick as the Nurse, and Oleg Dubson and Dima Dubson as the Sons/ Creon/ Aegeus. Scenic design is by Michael Byrnes. Costume design is by Oana Botez-Ban. Lighting design is by Lucrecia Briceno. Assistant director is Shira Milikowsky. Production manager is Mercedes Murphy.

Zishan Ugurlu (Medea) has never played Medea before, but has played Creusa (Glauce) in the Great Jones Repertory's "Medea," the first part of the epic "Fragments of a Greek Trilogy," directed by Andrei Serban with music by Elizabeth Swados. She is an actress and director-in-residence at La MaMa E.T.C., with which she has also performed in The Great Jones Rep's "The Trojan Women" as Helen of Troy and toured to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Austria and Greece with the production. Her other Great Jones Rep productions include Ellen Stewart's "Yunus," "Mythos Oedipus," and the title role in "Draupadi." Under the direction of Robert Woodruff, she played Carmen in "Godard-Distant and Right," which was awarded the grand prix at the Festival Des Jeunes, Theatre des Amandiers Nanterre in Paris. She has been featured in two international films including "The Letter," which was shown in the Cannes, Argentina, and Calcutta Film Festivals and Dog Race, and which was awarded the Martin Scorsese, Grand Marnier and W.Johnson Awards at the New York Film Festival. Other recent roles include the world premier of Dario Fo's "Peasants Bible" directed by Ron Jenkins, Blanche in a "Street Car Named Desire," Ayline in "Master Builder," Antigone in "Antigone," Masha in "Three Sisters" and the Featured Singer in ”Musica Alla Turca." With director Jay Scheib, she has played Desdomona in "Othello" and Monique in Koltes' "West Pier" at the Ohio Theatre. She earned a Ph.D. in Theatre from Ankara University and an MFA in Acting from Columbia. She is Assistant Professor at the Eugene Lang College of New School University.

Jay Scheib (adapter/director) is an international director who collaborated with Zishan Ugurlu on a variety of projects when both were students in the Columbia MFA program. This is their second professional project together. His recent projects include multimedia theatrical adaptations of two works of Russian romantic naturalism, "In this is the End of Sleeping," based on Chekhov's Platonov fragment, as part of the Chekhov Now Festival in NY, and Tolstoy's classic, "The Power of Darkness," with Pont Mühely in Budapest. Both of these projects were developed in residence at MIT in Cambridge. Other recent works include the New York Premier of "The Vomit Talk of Ghosts" by Kevin Oakes at the Flea Theater and Musset's "Lorenzaccio," at the Loeb Drama Center while in residence at Harvard University. His NY credits include "West Pier" by Bernard-Marie Koltès at the Ohio Theatre; "Falling and Waving," a digital opera composed by David Lang, libretto by Ron Jones, at Arts at St. Ann's in Brooklyn and "Herakles" at Chashama in Times Square. Projects in Berlin include "MARGARETHHAMLET" at Schwedterstr 12, an adaptation of Aeschylus' trilogy, "ORESTIA, AMERICA AMERICA," commissioned by the Exiles Festival at the Berliner Staatsbank, and two plays by Lothar Trolle, "Fernsehen" and "Vormittag in der Freiheit," in the 3.st Volksbuehne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin. Other international credits include: "Glass/Mohn" in Budapest and "The War Plays" by Edward Bond at the Mozarteum, Salzburg Austria. He directed Brecht's "Caucasian Chalk Circle" at the Yale Repertory Theatre produced by the Yale Dramatic Association. He is winner of the Richard Sherwood Award. Scheib is an assistant professor in Music and Theatre Arts at MIT and is a regular guest professor at the Universitat Mozarteum Salzburg, Institute für Schauspiel und Regie, in Salzburg, Austria. He holds an MFA in theatre directing from Columbia.

Dan Illian (Jason) appeared with ITONY as the Man in Nøren's "The Last Supper" at La MaMa last season. He was a member of the Guthrie Theater Acting Company for four seasons.

Margareth Kammerer (composer/ vocalist), a darling of the Berlin experimental music scene, known for her "oblique pop songs." Her recent debut album “To be an Animal of Real Flesh” with a remix track from Fred Frith was released on Charhizma and hit the top ten album of the year list in Italy. Known for her compositions melding classical and contemporary poetry, guitar and voice, she has been involved in numerous cross-disciplinary collaborations and live art performance, collaborating with filmmakers, video artists, theaters, and dance ensembles including the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Theatre de l'Incendie in St. Etienne, France, Teatro Nuovo in Napoli, Italy, the Volksbuehne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Berlin, and Chashama in NY.

Leah Gelpe (video designer) is a sound designer, projection designer and filmmaker. She has collaborated with Jay Scheib on 15 productions since 1996, including "West Pier" at Ohio Theatre, NY; "In this is the End of Sleeping" at Connelly Theatre NY; "The Vomit Talk of Ghosts" at the Flea Theatre NY; "Permit Me" (Sie Gestatten) at 3. St., Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin; "The War Plays" and "In the Solitude of Cotton Fields," both at Mozarteum, Salzburg; "Herakles/Herakles 5" at Chashama Theatre, NY; "Glass Mohn" at Pont Muhely, Budapest; and "Falling and Waving" at Arts at St. Ann's, Brooklyn. She was sound designer for David Rabe's "The Black Monk" at Yale Rep, "The Lady from the Sea at the Intiman Theatre, "Saved" at Theatre for a New Audience, and "Godard (distant & right)" at the Ohio Theatre, NY and Theatre des Amandiers, Nanterre, Paris. Her films have been screened in a variety of venues including the Anthology Film Archives, Bochum International Video Festival, and The Walker Art Center. She is an alumna of the Berlinale Film Festival Talent Campus, and holds an MFA in film from Columbia University.

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