UCLA Live Presents Annette Bening in Medea: New Interpretation of Classic Greek Tragedy
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The last date listed for Medea was Friday October 16, 2009 / 8:00pm.
Annette Bening stars in a new interpretation of Euripides’ classic about the passionate and destructive affair between the mortal Greek hero Jason and the mystical and exotic Medea. Lenka Udovicki, who has directed theater and opera around the world, incorporates classical elements, such as a 12-woman chorus and on-stage musicians, into this stylized modern staging produced by UCLA Live. Written for an Athenian audience that was at the height of its Golden Age, “Medea” remains a potent critique of power.
The story of Jason truly begins when Pelias overthrows his half-brother Aeson, Jason’s father and the king of Iolcus, for the throne. Years later, a grown Jason goes to Pelias to claim what is his rightful crown. Pelias agrees to give up the throne if Jason can bring back the Golden Fleece. Jason accepts the quest and assembles a group of heroes, known as the Argonauts, to join him on his ship the Argo.
Medea’s crucial role in this saga commences when Jason arrives in Colchis after an arduous journey. King Aeetes agrees to give Jason the fleece if he can perform three dangerous tasks: first, he had to plough a field with fire-breathing oxen; second, he had to sow the teeth of a dragon into the ploughed field; and finally, Jason must fight and kill the dragon that guards the fleece. Aeetes’ daughter Medea, however, falls in love with Jason and promises to help him on the condition that if he succeeds, he would take her with him and marry her. A powerful enchantress, Medea gives Jason a potion to protect him from the bulls’ fiery breath, warns him of the soldiers that would sprout from the teeth, and puts the dragon to sleep with a narcotic. Jason then takes the fleece and sails away with Medea, who kills her brother Absyrtus to distract her father while they escape.
After a similarly difficult journey back to Iolcus, Pelias still refuses to give Jason the throne, so Medea tricks Pelias’ daughters into killing their father. Consequently, the couple flees to Corinth. Euripides’ “Medea” picks up from here.