Minor Characters in the NT Medea


  • Denise Joan Varney University of Melbourne




Minor characters, Chorus, Nurse, states, National Theatre, Medea


This article considers contemporary trends in classical theatre and performance through the lens of the 2014 National Theatre London version of Euripides’ Medea directed by Carrie Cracknell and adapted by British writer and dramaturg Ben Power. The production team included Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin, who created a radical physicality for the Chorus of Corinthian Women, to a soundtrack composed by electronic pop duo Goldfrapp. As the audience enters it sees two young boys lying on the floor eating crisps and playing a video game while the Nurse looks on. Dressed in modern trainers, wide-legged high-waisted navy cotton pants and a pale blue sleeveless top, she is elegant, professional and in charge. Marketed as the NT Medea, the production was also transmitted through the National Theatre’s global live broadcast service to cinemas allowing many thousands of people to view the performance in their own cities and towns. When she speaks to the contemporary audience about the Argos, the fleece and blood, her words cross several time frames and spatial locations from Colchis to ancient Corinth to classical Athens, contemporary London and global cinemas, her words refer us to past and present places of private and civil unrest. This article considers the bringing together of the contemporary and the classical in a contemporary setting and behind that the question of theatre, its classical heritage and continuing cultural force.






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