Western Md. College to present powerful, tragic 'Medea' tonight

April 23, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Medea: A woman scorned?

Yes, and a lot more.

"Jason marries a younger woman, and she has power," said Sierra Hurtt, the senior theater major portraying the title character in Western Maryland College's final production of the school year. "[Medea] feels used. She remembers when she was young and alluring and had the riches her husband wanted, but now, he's gone. She's hurt."

WMC's theater department will present six performances of the classical Greek tragedy "Medea," beginning tonight on the Understage in Alumni Hall.

Euripides' "Medea," written in 431 B.C., is based on the myth of the sorceress daughter of a king who uses her powers to betray her father and win her foreign lover, Jason.

But Jason's heart -- and his loyalty -- are fickle and weak. He leaves his wife and children to pursue a princess whose wealth surpasses his wife's.

Medea's wrath is not taken lightly in the myth, in the classical play, or in the more modern adaptation being presented tonight.

"The play, in a sense, is about a really messy divorce," said the director, Ronald R. Miller, an associate theater professor. "It's about when one person feels betrayed and the emotions that can come out of the situation."

Mr. Miller said the emotional intensity and poetic language of the play make it one of the most difficult projects for actors to perform.

All of the principal players -- Ms. Hurtt, junior Chris Patrick who portrays Jason, and sophomore Carrie Mallino who plays the nurse -- are advanced theater majors who Mr. Miller feels are capable of handling the task.

"It is an actor-centered production, as are most of our final plays," said Mr. Miller. "Most people know that this play is a tragedy, and there is a tension in the situation that I believe we do a good job of bringing out between the characters."

The audience will be relatively close to the tension, the action and the emotion of the performance as they sit in an amphitheater-style arrangement that surrounds the stage on three sides.

This setting allows the play to be viewed at an elevation roughly equal to that of the actors.

Ms. Hurtt, who has worked with Mr. Miller on numerous theater projects including "Damn Yankees," "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Hedda Gabler," said this role has been the most demanding.

"Most of the roles I've played have been musical or comical, so they have been easier to get into," said Ms. Hurtt, who is from Philadelphia. "But for Medea, you have to delve into feelings you never wanted to delve into, ever. In order to play this part, you can't let any of your emotions be off limits."

"Medea" will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday for two weekends, beginning tonight. Ticket prices are $5 for the public and $3 for senior citizens or students with school identification. For tickets, call the theater department at 857-2599 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., or visit the Alumni Hall box office, which opens a half-hour before each performance.

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