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Medea by Euripides (431 BC)

A play based upon the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BC. The plot centers on the barbarian protagonist as she finds her position in the Greek world threatened, and the revenge she takes against her husband Jason who has betrayed her for another woman. Euripides produced Medea along with the lost plays Philoctetes, Dictys and the satyr play Theristai, winning the third prize (out of three) at the City Dionysia festival for that year.

South African productions

The original play

The original play was first produced in South Africa in English in

1866: Performed on 26 March in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, by the Le Roy-Duret Company featuring Marie Duret as "Medea", with Turn Him Out (Williams) as afterpiece.

1866: Performed again on 13 April in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, by the Le Roy-Duret Company, with Winning a Husband (Buckstone) as afterpiece.

1908: The first Afrikaans version of the original text (by **) was done by the Afrikaans-Hollandse Toneelvereniging in Potchefstroom and Ermelo (1907), then in the Opera House, Pretoria, April, on 1908, to an invited audience including the colonial secretary, General J.C. Smuts. Backdrops painted by the artist Frans Oerder.

1935: Presented in English by the University of Cape Town's Speech and Drama Department at the Little Theatre, directed by Ruth Peffers.

1973: An Afrikaans translation by Roelf Laubscher was done by PACOFS in 1973 by the SUKOVS Werksteater, directed by Jannie Gildenhuys.

1986: In 1986 the play was designed and directed by John Giese for the Eoan Theatre Group. The cast included Theresa Cloete, Raffaele Sabatini, Veronica Edwards, Neil Stoffberg, Edgar Whitley, Bernadette Stevens, Wendy Ely, Estelle Webster, Shamien Essack, Joseph Mitchell, performed in the Baxter Studio.

1994: An adaptation was staged by Jazzart and Magnet Theatre in The Arena in the Nico Malan Theatre in 1994, directed by Mark Fleishman and Jennie Reznek, with Bo Petersen (Medea) and Kurt Wustmann (Jason), Jay Pather, Dawn Langdown and Heinrich Reisenhofer. Choreography by Alfred Hinkel. This production went to the Grahamstown Festival in 1995 and the Market Theatre in 1996.

2011: A translation into Afrikaans of this text by Arnold Blumer was directed by Marthinus Basson for TEATERteater at Woordfees 2011 and Aardklop 2012, with Coba-Maryn Wilsenach as Medea.

2019: An adapted version of the play, developed and performed by Dario D’Ambrosi's Rome based company and school L’ Associazione del Teatro Patologico[1] (generally referred to as Teatro Patologico), was staged in the Mannie Manim Theatre at The Market Theatre, Johannesburg on 27 September and 28 September, appearing under the auspices of the Italian Cultural Institute in Pretoria and The Market Theatre Foundation. The cast consisted of people with disabilities and professional actors.

Adaptations of the Medea text

Medea by Franz Grillparzer [2] (1821)

The culminating events of Grillparzer's trilogy of reworked Greek plays, Das goldene Vlies (The Golden Fleece). The theme is the tragedy of the heart's desire, the conflict of the simple happy life with that sinister power, be it genius or ambition, which upsets the equilibrium of life. Medea, her revenge stilled, her children dead, bears the fatal Fleece back to Delphi, while Jason is left to realize the nothingness of human striving and earthly happiness. The end is bitter disillusionment; the only consolation renunciation. Some critics consider Medea Grillparzer's highest achievement.

Produced in South Africa at The Space (Cape Town), adapted and directed by Barney Simon in his directorial debut at The Space from 9 July to 20 August 1977, with Yvonne Bryceland, Charles Comyn, Wilson Dunster, Chris Galloway, Joel Maister, Michael Maister, Nomhle Nkonyeni and Jacqui Singer. Music by Mike Dickman, set by John Nankin and costumes by Zsuzsanna Kovacs and Danny Malan. Lighting: Dimitri Nicolas-Fanourakis.

Barney Simon directed this version at the Edinburgh Festival and at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith by Traverse Theatre, with Yvonne Bryceland in the cast, from August 1983.

Medea by Robinson Jeffers (1946)

1955: Produced by Pietro Nolte for the Cape Town Theatre Company at the Rondebosch Town Hall, with Lydia Lindeque as Medea, Jennifer Craig, Percy Sieff, Peter Craig, Pietro Nolte and others in the cast, October 1955.

1962: In 1962 the English adaptation by American poet Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) [3] was staged by the Durban Lyric Theatre Company, directed by Peter Craig with Lydia Lindeque as Medea.

Medea by Dieter Reible

Dieter Reible wrote a German version for a solo performance by his second wife at an avant-garde theatre in Poland.

1981: This version was translated into English and was performed by Trix Pienaar at the Baxter Studio, directed by Reible, opening 13 May 1981. (Manuscript (?) held by NELM: [Collection: LILENSTEIN, Mavis]: 2007. 9. 17. 2).

2011: Reible's adaptation of Medea was translated into Afrikaans by Arnold Blumer and performed at the Woordfees, directed by Marthinus Basson, starring Coba-Maryn Wilsenach.

Kabuki Medea by Shozo Sato

1992 or 1993: A production was staged at an unknown venue in Natal, starring Brenda Radloff.

Demea by Guy Butler

A South African adaptation, based on Medea, first performed at the Grahamstown Festival in 1990, directed by Dieter Reible, and published by David Philip, 1990.

See further: Demea

MedEia by Oscar van Woensel, in collaboration with Kuno Bakker and Manja Topper (1998)

The text presents a fragmented stream of consciousness version of the story. First produced by Dood Paard in 1998.

First performed in South Africa by the Third World Bunfight as a site-specific performance at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2003, designed and directed by Brett Bailey, text direction by Lara Bye, with Faniswa Yisa as Medea, James MaccGregor, Frank Paco, Mbali Kgosidintsi, Indalo Stofile, Namhla Tshuka and Apollo Ntshoko. This site-specific version was repeated in 2005 at the Spier Arts Summer Season (Stellenbosch). Reworked for stage production in the Zurich Theater Spektakel, Theaterfestival Basel, Berliner Festspiele, and 7 Dutch cities including Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as well as the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, in 2012.

2012: Staged at the Baxter Theatre, designed and directed by Brett Bailey, with Faniswa Yisa (Medea), Frank Paco, James McGregor, Apollo Ntshoko, Indalo Stofile, Mbali Kgosidintsi and Namhla Chuka.

Mamma Medea by Tom Lanoye (2001)

Published 2001 by Prometeus.

Using the story of Medea to bring up modern problems (such as migration and man vs. woman), resulting in a modernized version of Medea. His version also aims to analyze ideas such as the love that develops from the initial passion, problems in the marriage, and the "final hour" of the love between Jason and Medea. **

Translated into Afrikaans as Mamma Medea by Antjie Krog, it was done by Marthinus Basson for the Aardklop festival in 2003, with Neels van Jaarsveld, Anthea Thompson, Antoinette Kellermann, Jannie Gagiano. Also at the Woordfees (2003).


Wikipedia [4]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.203-205

Third World Bunfight [5]

Teaterteater programme

Inskip, 1972. p.120 (1935 production).

Photocopies from Percy Sieff's scrapbook held by NELM: [Collection: SIEFF, Percy]: 2013. 25. 4. 28. (1955 production).

Medea theatre programme, 1955.

Astbury 1979.

Review by Fiona Chisholm, unititled, undated newspaper clipping (circa 1981) and Die Burger, 5 March 2011 (re Reible adaptation).

Barrow, Brian & Williams-Short, Yvonne 1988.

Van Zyl Smit 2005; 2007.

Cape Times, 18 September 2012.

"Teatro Patologico visits the Market Theatre", Market Theatre Foundation - News (09/01/2019).

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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