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Missing Medea

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
The focus of this project is to (re)create a trilogy of plays that bring the unfamiliar and largely forgotten stories of the tragic heroine Medea of Greek mythology to the modern stage. In each case the selection of narrative detail and decisions regarding presentational style are part of the ongoing task of re-visualizing antiquity. The first play, Cupid’s Arrow, focuses on the beginning of Medea’s doomed and tragic love for Jason as it was engineered by the goddess of marriage Hera and it draws from fragments of Sophocles’ play, the Colchides (Women of Colchis). The second, The Daughters of Pelias, is recreated from fragments and the supposed narrative of a play (Peliades now lost) that was in Euripides’ first ever production at the City Dionysia in 455 B.C. The story centers on Medea’s deception of Pelias’ daughters, who end up slaughtering their father when hoping to prolong his life. The third play of the trilogy, After Medea, which takes place after the horrific ending of Euripides' surviving Medea, rotates its triangle somewhat. Instead of a young Corinthian princess upsetting the balance of Jason and Medea's union by distracting Jason's affections, it is a young Theseus whose arrival creates turbulence for Medea and her rescuer and new husband Aegeus. This play follows the presumed plot of two non-surviving “Aegeus” tragedies, one by Sophocles and one by Euripides. The dissertation attempts, in part, to redeem the character of Medea for modern audiences by placing before them, in dramatic form, some missing parts of her story. It thus follows a path similar to that of Margaret Atwood’s recent novel and play, The Penelopiad, which similarly reinterprets otherwise unfamiliar mythological evidence for the wife of Homer’s Odysseus. Such projects map out a methodology for such revisualization of classical mythology that does not limit itself to the surviving epics and tragedies. Appendices to the dissertation include a reworking of Euripides’ Trojan Women (produced at SFU in Spring 2012), and an essay on Homer’s Achilles that draws parallels between him and Medea.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Mirhady, David
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