Eduacation Pack for Medea by lindayy


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									                          11-27 October 2007

             Dood Paard

Education Resource Pack

  Written and compiled by Deborah Leiser-Moore
Table of contents

Foreword                                        3

Curriculum Links                                4

Activities based on MedEia                      5
                   § Roll and Tell              5
                   § Three-way Conversation     6
                   § Told Through Song          7
                   § Picture This               8
                   § Pass the Emotion           9
                   § Medea Magazine             10
                   § Keeper of the Fleece       11
                   § Warring Nations            12
                   § Eye Witness News           13
                   § Desire and Rejection       14
                   § Intensify T hat Emotion!   15
                   § Contain your Emotions      16

Appendix List                                   17

Appendices                                      18

Dood Paard– meaning ‘Dead Horse’ – is a contemporary performance company based
in Amsterdam, Holland. It was founded in 1993 by Kuno Bakker, Manja Topper and
Oscar van Woensel, who were, at that time, all recent graduates from theatre school.
Since then, they have become a prominent avant-garde company in the Dutch theatre
scene. Their aim is to make performance an event in itself, a unique experience.
However, at the heart of their performance is always a text into which they place music
and moving images.

One of the performance pieces that they are bringing to the 2007 Melbourne
International Arts Festival is ‘MedEia’ – a contemporary version of the Greek classic
‘Medea’. The fact that they have re-spelt the name creates immediate interest, and
raises many possible questions and points for discussion for the students. Why the re-
naming? What does this tell us about their approach to the text and to performance

The play deals with love and its many truths and lies. Dood Paard tells the story from
the perspective of the chorus: the chorus as a permanent witness to the dramatic
proceedings but who are unable to intervene in the tragedy. Is this impotence, tragic
destiny or unwillingness? The company moves away from the epic performance style
replacing it instead with a simplicity and a casualness implicit in ‘basic storytelling’ -
more like the telling of a folk tale. The actors toy with their roles, interpreting them very
freely, to the extent that distinctions between different characters sometimes become
blurred. At a certain point, the text may sound autobiographical - improvised on the
spot, while later the actor may present the same character as a stereotype or a puppet
speaking in quotations. These switches are invariably unpredictable and ambiguous.

Across the stage, four paper curtains are hung. These are used for projecting dozens of
still images, which are shown at a high-speed rhythm. Images of a warm
Mediterranean sun are juxtaposed with those of the sad chilliness of the northern isles.
They are shown between the acts, and the screens are torn down as the action moves
on. Dood Paard's method of working is a collective process, there is no director - actors
collaborate with technicians and sometimes a deejay in trying out stage formulas. The
limits of theatrical possibility are explored and emotional extremes are studied. Unity of
time and place is taken literally so that performances are often relevant to current
events. Universal themes are tackled with a characteristic lightness and exuberant
energy that show humour to be one of the group's most important weapons, alternated
with irony and bitterness.

Dood Paard’s production of MedEia would be of particular interest to upper secondary
students of Drama and Theatre Studies, Ancient History and English. It is unnecessary
for students to complete ALL the activities in this Education Pack in order to gain an
understanding and appreciation of the performance. Teachers may choose from the
activities and decide what is appropriate for their students and teaching circumstances.
Teachers and students can complete the activities in this Education Pack prior to seeing
the performance however many exercises should ideally be done as follow up activities.
Some questions have been included in some activities as post-show discussion topics.

Deborah Leiser-Moore
Education Pack Writer

Curriculum Links
The Victorian Essential Learning Standards, CSFII – were consulted in the preparation
for these teachers’ notes. Some of the connections are outlined below.

Learning Outcomes for Performing Arts CSF II
Arts Practice/ Creating and Making

Students are engaged in activities that enable them to:

• practically explore some of the elements of the MedEia performance including the use
of storytelling, multimedia, song and music to enhance performance and characters;
• select, organise and apply elements, principles and conventions of the MedEia
production to convey meaning in their own performances;
• work collaboratively to prepare, create and rehearse performances;
• present their performances to members of the class and possibly an audience from
the wider school community.

Responding to the Arts / Exploring and Responding

Students are engaged in activities that enable them to:

• appreciate the MedEia performance within the broader context of Contemporary
Performance Practice;
• demonstrate an understanding of ancient Greek theatre and consider it in relation to
other traditional forms of theatre;
• identify key features of the MedEia production including the use of storytelling
devices, multimedia and music to enhance the performance of a contemporary
production based on a classical text;
• appreciate the cultural and historic context of this production of MedEia and
understand its relevance and resonance to our contemporary environment;
• consider the ways in which drama and theatre challenge, reinforce and construct
social, cultural and artistic values and attitudes;
• recognise ways in which an understanding of the MedEia production can influence
and inform their own performance making;
• evaluate each others work orally and refine their group performances in response to
peer evaluation.

Roll and Tell

Students will need to have some knowledge of the story of Medea for this activity.
Refer to Appendices B and C for background information and a synopsis of the
play. If time permits students should also read the play Medea by Euripides.
A die will also be needed.


Students will learn about direct story telling in a performance context, as well as
learn to work as an ensemble. They will learn to think quickly, to listen and to
clearly and concisely articulate a story.

Description of activity:

The students need to re-tell the story of Medea in their own words. Sitting in a circle,
the first person rolls the die. This continues around the circle until one student rolls a
six. The student who rolls the six must stand up and begin to tell the story of Medea.
They continue until another student rolls a six. This student then replaces the
“storyteller” but must continue the story from where the other student left off. This
process continues until the whole story has been told.
If the teacher feels that the story hasn’t been well told, or with enough detail, then
the process begins again. This is repeated until the teacher is satisfied.

Questions for reflection:

    •   How did you decide what elements of the story to include?
    •   How easy was it to continue the story from the previous student?
    •   How difficult was it?
    •   Was the story clear and easy to follow and understand?
    •   Do you think that telling the story as a group made it more exciting and

Extension Activity:

In this activity if the student rolls a six they must also put on a costume while
continuing the story. For example, they roll a six, stand up, start the story (from
where the last person left off – no break), put on a hat, a shirt etc. The number of
pieces of clothing is up to the teacher. The students must not lose the thread of the
story while they are putting on the items of clothing. They must then disrobe very
quickly if another student rolls a six. The students must try to maintain the thread
and flow of the storytelling.

Questions for reflection:

    •   Was this activity more or less difficult then the previous activity? Why?
    •   Did the addition of costume enhance the storytelling experience? Why?

Three-Way Conversation



Dood Paard performers work with each other intuitively and collaboratively in order
to create their work. To do this, they need to be highly attuned to each other –
knowing when to listen, when to respond and when to initiate. This activity will assist
in the development of these skills and help students become more receptive to
multiple incoming data. The activity will also build a sense of timing.

Description of activity:

The students are broken into groups of three. One student stand s in the centre and
the other students stand at either end. Each ‘end’ student chooses a topic (related to
Medea) and engages the ‘centre’ student in conversation – as if the student at the
other end did not exist ie. The students at either end only engage with the student in
the centre. The ‘centre’ student must engage with BOTH ‘ends’, and be fluent in
both conversations (responding and initiating when necessary), without excluding
the student at either end. Ideally, the student in the centre must have two
conversations at the same time.

The position of the students should be rotated.

Questions for reflection:

   •   Did you find it hard to initiate the conversation?
   •   Did the middle student stop hearing one student while answering the other?
   •   Did you pick up topics from each other?
   •   Did you start to become more attuned to each other?

Told Through Song



This activity will help students understand that the themes of Medea are about the
universal human condition, and are therefore relevant to their own contemporary
world (Refer to Appendix C). The students will also learn to think laterally about
ways of storytelling.

This activity also relates to one of the performance methods employed by Dood
Paard – ie using contemporary songs (titles and lyrics) as part of the script. This also
teaches students that performance scripts can be written in many different ways and
that it is necessary to think laterally when writing a performance script.

Description of activity:

The teacher asks the class what they think Medea is about. For example: Love,
Revenge, Murder, Hate, Abandonment. The students are then split up into groups of
four or five. Each group is given a different theme.

They are given 20 – 30 minutes (approximately) to think about and write down
song titles that are relevant to their particular theme. They must then construct the
song titles into an order that best relates the story of Medea. They must tell the story
focusing on their specific theme. They can place other short sentences between the
song titles – as long as the titles dominate the retelling. Students should present to
the class for feedback and discussion.

Questions for reflection:

   •   Did this activity make you think about the universal themes of the play?
   •   Does this ancient story have relevance to your own life? Why?

Picture This

The teacher should bring in (or ask the students to bring in) images that are
relevant to the themes of Medea.


This activity will teach the student the power of ‘image as text’ within a performance
context. It will also show students alternative ways to communicate in performance -
using means other than text. The images chosen should be more thematic and
relate to the underlying emotional impact of the play, rather than narrative.

Description of activity:

The students are split into groups. They must assemble a group of pictures that
clearly communicate the themes/story of Medea. It should not be a linear narrative,
but thematic in content.

If possible, (ie, if the school has AV facilities) they should film the pictures in
sequence. They will then present the film to the rest of the class – i.e. project it onto
a screen or wall using a data projector. They must then be able to articulate the
reasoning behind their choices (both in the choice of image as well as the choice of

Questions for reflection:

   •   Why did you choose those particular images?
   •   Why did you put them in that particular sequence?
   •   What did the spectator (other students) understand from the images?
   •   Do you think images or words communicate themes/ideas more strongly?

Pass the Emotion

The teacher should write a list of the specific emotional states explored in Medea –
i.e. love, jealousy, anger, etc. (Refer to Appendix C)


The students explore different emotional states. Students also examine how these
emotional states can affect the people/characters that they interact with.

Description of activity:

One person begins, as the host, with a neutral emotion. The first guest knocks or
rings the bell (saying "knock-knock" or "ding-dong"), and enters in a highly charged
emotional state. As soon as the host picks up on the emotion, she "catches" it, and
continues interacting with the guest. The next guest enters with a different emotion,
and the host and guest "catch" it. Each new guest will cause a different emotion to
permeate through the party. The participants are free to interact with different
people. The participants should not anticipate the change of emotion that comes
with the entry of each new guest. They should instead allow the emotion to "travel"
to them.

Notes: It might be wise to discuss with students how to express negative emotions
such as anger without using violence. Students should be able to identify non
threatening ways of manipulating verbal and physical expressive skills to portray
such emotions.

Questions for reflection:

   •   What were the key factors that allowed you to recognise the emotional state
       of each new guest?
   •   How did you find the transition form one emotional state to the other?
   •   How was the emotion expressed physically?
   •   How was the emotion expressed vocally?

Extension activity:

To make things really tricky, two guests could enter at the same time with different

NOTE: Students may be highly charged after participating in the above activity. It
would be wise to take this into consideration when planning activities that
immediately follow on from this lesson.

Medea Magazine

You will need to source a large number of different styles of magazines for this
activity i.e. fashion magazines, newspapers, music magazines, star magazines,
sports magazines, etc.
You will also need to source a variety of objects o make simple puppets i.e.
cardboard, scissors, string, glue, scrap paper and fabric, coloured markers, sticky -
tape, etc.


The students will learn to find a relationship with the essential characters of Medea
and their own contemporary ‘pop’ icons and thus relevance in their own lives. This
activity helps the students to consider how the play might be reinterpreted for a
modern audience.

Description of activity:

The students split into small groups. They must reconstruct the Medea story using
contemporary popular figures. For example, is George Clooney the character of
Jason? Why?

The students can begin either by:

   •   looking through the magazines to get inspiration or
   •   by deciding on which contemporary figure relates to which character in
       Medea – and then proceeding to look for an image of this particular person
       in the magazines.

Once they have decided on who is the perfect contemporary icon to play the
specific characters, they must cut their relevant images from the magazines. They
then construct them into three-dimensional paper ‘puppets’. Students should be
encouraged to use their imagination in the construction of their puppets. If time
doesn’t permit, students might simply paste their cut out images onto cardboard
and glue a stick onto it in order to hold and manipulate their puppet.

Once they have created all the characters, they must rehearse and then enact the
story of Medea for the rest of the class using their puppets as the characters.

Questions for reflection:

   •   Why did you choose that particular person to play that character? What is it
       about them that parallels the original character in the play?
   •   What does this exercise tell you about the story and the characters and their
       universal dilemmas?

Keeper of the Fleece

An object will be needed to represent the Golden Fleece.


Jason’s mission was to take the Golden Fleece from King Aeetes of Colchis. King
Aeetes was most reluctant to relinquish the Fleece. This activity will help students
appreciate the importance of objects and possessions in the story of Medea (Refer to
Appendix A). This activity also develops a highly attuned sensory awareness –
necessary for performance.

Description of activity:

The students sit in a circle with one student sitting in the middle of the circle. This
student is blindfolded and is called ‘the keeper’. An object – the Golden Fleece – is
placed in the circle with ‘the keeper’. One at a time the students in the circle can
attempt to steal the ‘Fleece’. They must try to take the ‘Fleece’ back to the circle without
the knowledge of ‘the keeper’. ‘The keeper’ must try to prevent the ‘Fleece’ from being
stolen by the other students. If ‘the keeper’ is able to point to the person who is
approaching before they manage to take the ‘Fleece’, then ‘the keeper’ has successfully
prevented the ‘Fleece’ from being stolen for that round. If a student is successful in
stealing the ‘Fleece’ they become the new ‘keeper’.

Questions for reflection:

       •     How did the student in the centre of the circle sense that another student
             was approaching them?
       •     How did it feel knowing that the rest of the class wanted to steal your
       •     What tactics did the students use to steal the ‘Fleece’?
       •     What strategies did ‘the keeper’ use to prevent the ‘Fleece’ from being

Warring Nations

An object is needed to represent the Golden Fleece.


The objective of this activity is to get the students to engage in a mock war. Like in
Medea, the two groups are as ‘nations’. Alternatively, the two groups might represent
the masculine and feminine characters of the play.

Description of activity:

Two teams are placed in two lines facing each other some distance apart. The groups
should be given relevant names: These could be the names of places such as Corinth
and Athens. Or, alternatively the class could be split into women and men.

An object representing the Golden Fleece is placed in the middle of the space –
between the two lines. Each member of each team is given a number, starting at one.
The students are instructed to remember their number.

The teacher calls out a number. A student from each group, with that number, must try
to take the ‘Fleece’ back to their own group before the other student tags her/him. The
student can not tag the other student unless she/he is touching the ‘Fleece’. If the
student brings the ‘Fleece’ home then they score one point for their team. If the student
carrying the ‘Fleece’ is tagged by the other student before getting home, then the
opposite team gets the point. Each time a point is scored the ‘Fleece’ is returned to its
central position.

The students should explore tactics in order to gain possession of the ‘Fleece’.

Questions for reflection:

       •     What tactics did you use to grab the ‘Fleece’?
       •     Was there a relationship built between you and the other player from the
             opposing team?
       •     How important was it to know that your own team was supporting you?
       •     Did seeing the opposing player as your enemy heighten your desire to win
             the ‘Fleece’?

Eye Witness News

Students will need to have some knowledge of the story of Medea for this activity.
Refer to Appendices A and B for background information and a synopsis of the play. If
time permits students should also read the play Medea by Euripides.


The students explore the role of the chorus in Ancient Greek Theatre. The chorus are
witnesses to tragic events but do nothing to stop these events from occurring. Students
will examine the role of the media as impartial observers in our modern society.

Description of activity:

Divide students into groups of three. The students will perform news reports based on
events that take place in the play and/or the background to the play: i.e.

   - Medea murders the serpent so that Jason is able to steal the Golden Fleece.
   - Medea murders her brothers so that she and Jason are able to escape from her
   - Jason decides to divorce Medea and marry Glauce.
   - Glauce and Creon are killed by the poisoned robe that Medea sent to Glauce.
   - Medea murders her sons.

The students may play either the anchor man (the main reporter who sits at the news
desk), the roving reporter (the reporter who is at the scene of the event), or the eye
witness (any person who happened to see the event in action). Give the students time to
rehearse their news reports and then get them to present them to the class for feedback
and discussion.

Questions for reflection:

       •     Were the reporters impartial in their reporting?
       •     Were the events depicted as news or as entertainment?
       •     Is a reporter able to be completely objective in their account of an event?
       •     When should a reporter or eye witness be compelled to take action in order
             to stop an event from occurring?

Desire and Rejection



The students will have a visceral experience of being both rejected and desired.
Students will also gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between Medea and
Jason and the emotional experience of these characters. This activity also focuses on
the concept of fear and protection.

Description of activity:

The students start by walking around the room. The students are instructed to select
someone to be Medea. They must not make their selection obvious to the other
students. The students are to continue to move around the room, but must keep as
much distance as possible from ‘Medea’.

Students are instructed to select another person as Jason and to move around the room
trying to keep as close as possible to this person.

Ask the students to assume that Medea is an undesirable person because she is
primitive and barbaric, and to imagine that Jason is a sophisticated person who can
protect them from Medea.

The students’ task is to ensure that Jason is kept between them and Medea at all times,
while moving as far away from Medea as possible.

The teacher may decide to ‘freeze’ the game at any given moment and see how the
students have fared or to examine the stage pictures that have developed out of this

Questions for reflection:

       •     How did it feel to be rejected?
       •     How did it feel to be desired?
       •     Do you think the intense rejection that Medea experienced, could justify her
       •     Did you feel a sense of power when being Jason?

Intensify That Emotion!

   1. The teacher needs to prepare a list of emotional states that are relevant to
      Medea. (Refer to Appendix C)
   2. OR the students start by writing the above list.


The students will explore the extremity of emotions. They will be coaxed into
heightening and deepening these emotions. They will also explore how this results in a
transformation of the original emotion.

The aim is to give the students an insight in to how decisions made from an
unbalanced state of being can have dire consequences. Just like the tragic
consequences of Medea’s actions.

Description of activity:

This activity can be done either by:

   1. Placing one student in front of the class with the rest of the class becoming
      observers. The teacher guides the exercise. Or;
   2. Splitting the class into pairs with one student acting and the other student
      guiding. The students will then swap roles.

The students take on one of the characters of the play. They must describe a vital
moment in the play for their character. They must then say how this makes them feel.
The teacher (or another student) then calls out for the emotion to be heightened. This
will result in the emotion transforming into a new emotion. This continues with the
teacher/student guide calling for them to ‘heighten’ and ‘deepen’ the emotion. The
emotion might eventually be cyclical – ie the student might come back to the original

For example: Medea feels love for Jason. This love becomes stronger. In the process of
becoming stronger, the emotion will become something else – i.e. passion. Passion
might then become obsession, which might become possessiveness or jealousy etc.

Questions for reflection:

       •     How did the intensity of emotions make you feel?
       •     How did you feel watching this level of intensity of emotion?
       •     Were there clear transformations of the emotional state?
       •     Could an intense emotional state of being effect the actions of the
             individual? In what way?

Extension activity:

You might consider using the above exercise as a starting point, before getting students
to prepare a short scene from the play.

Contain your Emotions

The teacher needs to prepare a list of emotional states that are relevant to Medea.
(Refer to Appendix C) OR the students start by writing the above list. A strong dramatic
piece of music is needed


This activity teaches students to allow emotions to be contained. This helps develop a
rich internal sensibility for a performer – and also allows them to find a connection to a
truthful emotional state by not relying on the outward emotional ‘masks’ that are so
often used in performance.

Description of activity:

This activity can be done in three different ways:

   1. one by one – with the student in front of the rest of the class;
   2. in groups of students in front of the class;
   3. all the students do the activity at the same time in their own space in the room.

The student must start with an emotion – but not outwardly show it. The music is played.
They must allow the emotion of the music to affect them. However, they must not
outwardly show their emotions. They must contain them. They must allow for the
changes in their emotional state – the heightening and transformation (as in the
previous exercise), but keep a neutral face for the audience.

This exercise is deceptively simple!

Questions for reflection (if relevant):

       •     How difficult was it to contain the emotions?
       •     Did you find your body being affected?
       •     Did you find a greater depth to the emotional state?
       •     How did the addition of music enhance the intensity of the emotion?

Extension activity:

You might consider using the above exercise as a starting point, before getting students
to prepare a short scene from the play.

Appendix List

Appendix A:     Background to the Play

Appendix B:     Synopsis of the Play

Appendix C:     Major Themes

Appendix D:     About Euripides

Appendix E:     Production Photos

Appendix F:     Biography

Appendix G:     List of credits

Appendix H:     Internet References/Sources:

Appendix A:


Medea was first performed in 431 BCE. The story of Medea, the ‘barbarian witch’ and
princess of Colchis and her ill-fated marriage between Jason, ‘hero’ of the Golden
Fleece, would have been common knowledge to the ancient Greek audiences. So, to
fully understand the events of Medea, contemporary audiences need to be familiar with
the legends and myths on which the play is based.

This legend takes place quite early in the chronology of Greek myth. The story is set
after the ascent of Zeus, King of the gods, but is still near the beginning of his reign;
Helias, the ancient sun god before Apollo's coming, is Medea's grandfather. Jason's
voyage with the Argonauts predates the Trojan War, and represents the first naval
assault by the Greeks against an Eastern people.

Medea came from the far edge of the Black Sea, which, for the Greeks of Euripides'
time, was the edge of the known world. She was a powerful sorceress, princess of
Colchis, and a granddaughter of the sun god Helias. Jason was a great Greek hero
and captain of the Argonauts. He led his crew to Colchis in search of the Golden
Fleece, which was owned by Medea's father, King Aeetes, lord of Colchis. King Aeetes
kept the Fleece under guard. A sorcerer himself, he was a formidable opponent.

Aeetes set challenging traps and tasks that Jason had to overcome in order to obtain
the Golden Fleece. These made it all but impossible to obtain. However, Medea
intervened and Jason overcame these obstacles. For example, it was Medea herself
who killed the giant serpent that guarded the Fleece and then to buy time during their
escape, Medea killed her own brother and tossed the pieces of his corpse behind the
Argo as they sailed for Greece. Medea’s father, grief-stricken by his son's death and his
daughter's treachery, had to slow his pursuit of the Argo so he could collect the pieces
of his son's body for burial.

Medea and Jason returned to his hereditary kingdom of Iolcus. Jason's father had died,
and his uncle Pelias sat, without right, on the throne. In order to help Jason, Medea
convinced Pelias' daughters that she knew a way to restore the old king's youth. He
would have to be killed, cut into pieces, and then put together and restored to youth by
Medea's magic. The unwitting daughters did as Medea asked, but the sorceress then
explained that she couldn't really bring Pelias back to life. Rather than win Jason his
throne, this move forced Jason, Medea, and their children into exile. Finally, they settled
in Corinth, where Jason eventually took a new bride.

The action of the play begins here, soon after Medea l earns of Jason's treachery.

Appendix B:

Play Synopsis

Medea tells the story of the jealousy and revenge of a woman, Medea, who is betrayed
by her husband, Jason. Medea has left her home and her father for Jason's sake.
However, Jason abandons her and betroths himself to Glauce, the daughter of Creon,
ruler of Corinth. Creon orders that Medea is banished so that her jealousy may not
lead her to do her child some injury. She begs not to be exiled - without success.
Accepting the inevitable, she finally asks for day's delay of her leaving. Creon grants
this request.

Jason arrives and reproaches Medea accusing her of having provoked her exile by her
own violent temper. He claims that she would never have been thrust away had she
had the sense to submit to sovereign power. In reply she reminds Jason, her husband,
of what she had once done for him; how for him she had betrayed her own father and
people; and that for his sake had caused Jason’s uncle, Pelias, whom he feared, to be
killed by his own daughters.

I am the mother of your children. Whither can I fly, since all Greece hates the

It is not you" answers Jason, who once saved me, but love, and you have had from me
more than you gave. I have brought you from a barbarous land to Greece, and in
Greece you are esteemed for your wisdom. And without fame of what avail is treasure or
even the gifts of the Muses? Moreover, it is not for love that I have promised to marry
the princess, but to win wealth and power for myself and for my sons. Neither do I wish
to send you away in need; take as ample a provision as you like, and I will recommend
you to the care of my friends.

She refuses his gifts and scorns him by saying: Marry the maid if thou wilt; perchance
full soon thou mayst rue thy nuptials.

Meantime, Aegeus, the ruler of Athens, arrives at Corinth from Delphi. Medea laments
her fate to him and asks for his help. He promises that she shall find refuge in Athens.
Now, reassured, she turns to vengeance. She has Jason summoned, and when he
comes she begs for his forgiveness.

Forgive what I said in anger! I will yield to the decree, and only beg one favour, that my
children may stay. They shall take to the princess a costly robe and a golden crown, and
pray for her protection.

The prayer is granted and the gifts accepted. But soon a messenger appears,
announcing the result:

Alas! The bride had died in horrible agony; for no sooner had she put on Medea's gifts
than a devouring poison consumed her limbs as with fire, and in his endeavor to save
his daughter the old father died too.

Then, fearing that her own children will be killed in revenge, she decides to do the deed
herself – and, in doing so, add to her own revenge. So, she leads her two children to
the house and murders them herself.

The following scene is an important and powerful one in which after experiencing
agonizing doubt and hesitation, she resolves on this awful deed:

  In vain, my children, have I brought you up,
  Borne all the cares and pangs of motherhood,
  And the sharp pains of childbirth undergone.
  In you, alas, was treasured many a hope
  Of loving sustentation in my age,
  Of tender laying out when I was dead,
  Such as all men might envy.
  Those sweet thoughts are mine no more, for now bereft of you
  I must wear out a drear and joyless life,
  And you will nevermore your mother see,
  Nor live as ye have done beneath her eye.
  Alas, my sons, why do you gaze on me,
  Why smile upon your mother that last smile?
  Ah me! What shall I do? My purpose melts
  Beneath the bright looks of my little ones.
  I cannot do it. Farewell, my resolve,
  I will bear off my children from this land.
  Why should I seek to wring their father's heart,
  When that same act will doubly wring my own?
  I will not do it. Farewell, my resolve.
  What has come o'er me? Shall I let my foes
  Triumph, that I may let my friends go free?
  I'll brace me to the deed. Base that I was
  To let a thought of wickedness cross my soul.
  Children, go home. Whoso accounts it wrong
  To be attendant at my sacrifice,
  Let him stand off; my purpose is unchanged.
  Forego my resolutions, O my soul,
  Force not the parent's hand to slay the child.
  Their presence where we will go will gladden thee.
  By the avengers that in Hades reign,
  It never shall be said that I have left
  My children for my foes to trample on.
  It is decreed.

Finally, Jason, who has come to punish Medea for the murder of his new bride, hears
that his children have perished too. Medea herself appears to him in the chariot of the
sun, bestowed by Helios, the sun-god, upon his descendants. She revels in the anguish
of her faithless husband.

I do not leave my children's bodies with thee; I take them with me that I may bury them
in Hera's precinct. And for thee, who didst me all that evil, I prophesy an evil doom.

Medea flies to Aegeus at Athens.

Appendix C:

Major Themes

Revenge: A major reason for this play’s popularity is the seductive nature and appeal
of ‘revenge’. In this case, Medea sacrifices all for the perfect act of revenge. She
murders her own children, paradoxically, to protect them from the counter-revenge of
her enemies; she also kills them to hurt Jason, although in slaying them she is dooming
herself to a life of remorse and grief.

But part of Medea's appeal is its power as a revenge fantasy; Medea’s situation is a
paradigm for anyone who has been beset by enemies whose power is institutionally
protected and unfair. Her extreme act of revenge could be that which the victims
fantasize. Like the Chorus, Medea’s actions are observed with a mixture of horror and

Passion and Rage: Medea ‘s behavior and emotional states are extreme. The most
intense emotions she displays are passion and rage. She sacrificed everything for her
passionate love for Jason, committing unspeakable acts on his behalf.
But his betrayal of her transformed her passion into rage. Her devotion for and love of
Jason transformed into devastation.

The Greeks were very interested in the extremes of emotion and the consequences of
leaving emotion unchecked; they also tended to see strong passion and rage as part
and parcel of greatness. Medea is an example of passion carried too far in a woman
perversely set on choosing rage over mercy and reason.

Exile: Modern audiences have difficulty conceiving of how horrible exile was for the
ancient Greeks. A person's city-state was home and protector; to wander, without
friends or shelter, was considered a fate as horrible as death. Medea, for the sake of
her husband, has made herself an exile. She is far from home, without family or friends
to protect her. In her overzealous advocacy of her husband's interest, she has also
made their family exiles in Corinth. Because of her actions in Iolcus, Jason cannot
return home. Their position is vulnerable. Jason, hero of the Golden Fleece (although
Euripides emphasizes that Medea was the true agent behind the success of the quest) is
now a wanderer. His marriage is shrewd and calculating: he takes a bride of Corinth's
royal family. He is faithless, but he has a point when he argues to Medea that
something needed to be done to provide their family with security.

Euripides links the themes of exile and the position of women. When emphasizing the
circumstances women must bear after marriage (leaving home, living among
strangers), Medea is reminding us of the conditions of exile. Her position, then, is
doubly grave, as she is an exile in the ordinary sense and also an exile in the sense that
all women are exiles. She is also a foreigner, and so to the Greeks she will always be

The Position of Women: Women and the contradictions of the Greek sex-gender
system fascinated Euripides; his treatment of gender is the most sophisticated one to be
found in the works of any ancient Greek writer. Medea's opening speech to the Chorus
is Classical Greek literature's most eloquent statement about the injustices that befall
women. He also recognizes that the position of women, and their subordination to
men, is inextricable from the very core of social order in Greece. Greek society
functions thanks to injustice. Athens, a city that prided itself as a much freer place than

the neighboring dictatorships, was nonetheless a city that depended on slave labor and
the oppression of women. (The typical apology offered by admirers of Athens is that all
ancient societies were sexist and dependent on slave labor; this generality is untrue.
Many societies were more generous in their treatment of women than the Greeks were;
and many societies functioned, even in the ancient world, without slave labor.)
Euripides was aware of these hypocrisies, and he often pointed out the ways that Greek
society attempted to efface or excuse the injustices it perpetrated.

At the same time, Medea is not exactly a feminist role model. Euripides shows the
difficulties that befall women, but he does not give us tinny virgin heroines. He gives us
real women, who have suffered and become twisted by their suffering. What we see is
not a story of female liberation, but a war between the sexes in which all emerge

The Other: The ‘Other’ is a key theme. Medea's foreignness is emphasized from the
start: the Nurse, from the very opening lines, reminds us that Medea comes from a
distant and exotic land. Several points should be born in mind when reflecting on this
aspect of the play. Remember that the ‘Other’ is a complex and multifaceted concept: it
comprises the foreign, the exotic, the unknown, the feared. The ‘Other’ is also essential
for self-definition: as the Greeks ascribe certain traits to barbarians, they are implying
certain things about themselves. Barbarians are savage; we Greeks are not. Barbarians
are superstitious; we Greeks are rational. But throughout the course of the play,
Euripides destabilizes these easy binaries. He will show, as he does in other plays, that
the ‘Other’ is not exclusively something external to Greece. The ideas Greeks have
about themselves are often false. There is much, for the Greeks and for us, that we do
not know about ourselves.

Manipulation: Manipulation is an important theme. Medea, Jason, and Creon all try
their hand at manipulation. Jason used Medea in the past; he now manipulates the
royal family of Corinth to secure his own ends. Creon has made a profitable match
between his daughter and Jason, hoping to benefit from Jason's fame as the hero of
the Golden Fleece. But Medea is the master of manipulation. Medea plays perfectly on
the weaknesses and needs of both her enemies and her friends. Medea plays to
Creon's pity, and to the old king's costly underestimation of the sorceress. With Aegeus,
she uses her skills as a bargaining chip and takes advantage of the king's soft-
heartedness to win a binding oath from him. Against Jason, she uses his own
shallowness, his unmerited pride, and his desire for dominance. She plays the fawning
and submissive woman, to her husband's delight and gratification. Jason buys the act,
demonstrating his lack of astuteness and his willingness to be duped by his own

Appendix D:

About Euripides

A contemporary of Sophocles, Euripides was born around 484. He is the darkest and
most disturbing of the Greek playwrights. He questions authority, and he is fascinated
by the oppressed: women, barbarians, and slaves are more than just background on
the Euripidean stage. He allows them to speak, and speak well. For his complex
representations of "bad women," he earned the censure of critics and judges. He
depicts the position of the oppressed without romanticizing them, and his plays make
war against the gods of Olympus. In addition to his effect on the writing of tragedy,
Euripides is considered to have been a significant influence on the Greek creation of
New Comedy.

The universe in which Euripides believed was not benevolent, or just. Hardship falls on
all, the wicked and the good, and the gods are powerful but often capricious and cruel.
He questioned social structures and hollow or hypocritical ideals. Needless to say, these
positions made Euripides unpopular. He was the unwanted voice of conscience in his
age, a man unafraid to point out the lies with which a civilization comforts itself.
Sophocles gives us heroes, and Aeschylus gives us a vision of history and teleology;
Euripides gives us real men with all-too human weaknesses, and his visions are often
nightmares. In the end, the frenzied descent into chaos so often imagined by Euripides
was truest to Athens' fate. Infighting and dirty politics compromised Athens' good name,
and Athens fell to her hated enemy, Sparta, just a few years after Euripides' death.

Appendix E:   Link to Production Photos of Dood Paard’s MedEia

Appendix F:


Dood Paard is a theatre group from Amsterdam that is primarily involved in creating
theatre performances which it takes on tour through Holland and Belgium. It performs
around 100 nights a year. At the heart of the performance is always a text, though a
major role is also played by music and moving images. Most plays continue to be
performed over the years as STOCK or repertoire. An English version is made of some
performances which the company then takes on tour to theatres in the rest of Europe. A
part of Dood Paard's repertoire consists of new Dutch-language plays, which are
written specially for the group. Another part consists of plays from the world repertoire,
ranging from Shakespeare to Handke. The company is regularly involved in the making
of films for television. Performances are sometimes produced for special occasions and
in places outside the regular circuit. Most productions by Dood Paard involve co-
operation between regular company members and individua l theatre directors/actors
or other companies. Dood Paard's political engagement is clearly apparent in their

In 1993 Kuno Bakker, Manja Topper and Oscar van Woensel, at that time all recently
graduated from theatre school, founded the Dood Paard Theatre Company. Since then,
the company has gained a prominent avant-garde rating in the Dutch theatre scene. To
date their diverse achievements include thirty-three theatre productions, several TV films
and a TV series. Although they number only f ur resident actors (the fourth is Gillis
Biesheuvel) and regular guest actors, the group can be termed a repertoire company
since its productions are often re-staged: older pieces are performed in conjunction
with                                   current                                      work.

Dood Paard's method of working is a collective process, there is no director - actors
collaborate with a technician and sometimes a deejay in trying out stage formulas. The
limits of theatrical possibility are explored and emotional extremes are studied. Unity of
time and place is taken literally so that performances are often relevant to current
events. Universal themes are tackled with a characteristic lightness and exuberant
energy that show humour to be one of the group's most important weapons, alternated
with irony and bitterness. A performance by Dood Paard is an event in itself, a unique
The actors toy with their roles, interpreting them very freely, to the extent that
distinctions between different characters sometimes become blurred. At a certain point,
the text may sound autobiographical - improvised on the spot, while later the actor may
present the same character as a stereotype, a puppet speaking in quotations. These
switches          are         invariably       unpredictable      and         ambiguous.

In essence, Dood Paard is a company that is not afraid to take risks and court danger,
a group of actors who create stimulating and challenging works of theatre that can
captivate an audience.


Appendix G:

List of credits

Created by Kuno Bakker, Manja Topper, Oscar van Woensel, Coen Jongsma, Iwan
Van Vlierberghe & Anne Karin Ten Bosch

Text by Oscar van Woensel with Manja Topper & Kuno Bakker

Performed by Oscar van Woensel, Manja Topper & Kuno Bakker

Lighting and Sound by Rene Rood & Iwan Van Vlierberghe

Appendix H:   Internet References/Sources:


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