Theatre Y to Stage MEDEA, 5/7-6/1

Article Pixel

Theatre Y presents Euripides' Medea, freely adapted by poet Robinson Jeffers at Theatre Y, 2649 N. Francisco Ave. in Chicago, May 7-June 1, 2014. Director Kevin V. Smith returns to the helm to bring a bold, dangerous, and emotionally rich dreamvision to Euripides' classic, having previously directed Theatre Y's wildly imaginative and experimental productions of Exiles and The Misunderstanding.

"This show marks my 11th collaboration with Melissa Lorraine," says Kevin V. Smith, Theatre Y company member and Medea director "Medea allows audiences and artists alike to explore the dark side of human nature, our own inner workings. It's my hope that doing this sort of work helps to put a little more empathy into the world while creating a bold piece of art at the same time."

Medea's crime is that she loves too deeply. When she is forsaken, her love turns into a hatred that is just as intense. Scorned by her husband and killing her children, Medea is one of the most haunting characters in all of Greek mythology. Jeffers' poetic adaptation fleshes out her thoughts for both their beauty and paradox. All of the texts previously produced by Theatre Y have been lesser-known works. With this production, Theatre Y consciously enters a new juncture to boldly reinterpret the known and the beloved.

The action of Smith's staging will consist of two different worlds playing out simultaneously: the world of Medea, an expressionistic nightmare vision of a couple going through a divorce; and the world of the Female Chorus, a contemporary dream world of girls preparing for prom. The style of the production is a hybrid of Viewpoints based abstract expressionist performance style and realism inlaid with Grotowski memory work.

"I have held Medea at arm's length and perceived her as untouchable," says Melissa Lorraine, Theatre Y Artistic Director and Medea cast member on the character of Medea. "This production is now my prayer on behalf of us all, who seem doomed to commit abhorrent acts despite our purest intentions, simply because we are fragile and love deeply."

The ensemble cast of 16 includes Melissa Lorraine, Carlo Lorenzo Garcia, Simina Contras, and a contemporary female chorus that takes a primary role. Production staff includes Branimira Ivanova (costume and make-up design), Benjamin Wardell of Lucky Plush (movement), and photographer Devron Enarson (lighting design).

Opening performance May 7 at 7pm with additional performances May 8-June 1, 2014 on Thursdays through Sundays at 7pm, except Thursday, May 15, 2014. All performances are at Theatre Y, 2649 N. Francisco Ave. in Chicago. Performance space is located inside St Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square.

Tickets are $15-$20 and are available by phone at 708.209.0183 or online at


"Poetry is not a civilizer. Rather the reverse."-Robinson Jeffers

ROBINSON JEFFERS brought a great knowledge of literature, religion, philosophy, language, myth, and science to his poetry. One of his favorite themes was the intense, rugged beauty of the landscape set in opposition to the degraded and introverted condition of modern man. Strongly influenced by Nietzsche's concepts of individualism, Jeffers believed that human beings had developed a self-centered view of the world, and felt passionately that they should learn to have greater respect for the rest of creation.

Many of Jeffers' narrative poems also use incidents of rape, incest, or adultery to express moral despair. The Woman at Point Sur (Liveright, 1927) deals with a minister driven mad by his conflicting desires. The title poem of Cawdor and Other Poems (Liverlight, 1928) is based on the myth of Phaedra. In Thurso's Landing (Liverlight, 1932), Jeffers reveals, perhaps more than in any of his other collections, his abhorrence of modern civilization.

During the late 1930s and the 1940s, Jeffers' genius was judged to have faded, and many of his references to current events and figures (Hitler, Stalin, FDR, and Pearl Harbor, for instance) raised questions about his patriotism in a period of national strife. The Double Axe (Random House, 1948) even appeared with a disclaimer from the publisher. However, Jeffers' adaptation of Euripides' Medea (Random House, 1946) was a great success when it was produced in New York in 1948.


Medea: Melissa Lorraine

Jason: Carlo Lorenzo Garcia*

The Nurse: Simina Contras

Creon and Aegeus: Barry Hubbard*

The Tutor: Julian Stroop

Slave: Jack Swokowski

Medea's Elder Son: Aaron Lamm

Medea's Younger Son: Nicholas Wenz

Medea's Female Attendants:

George Denholm, Mike McCarthy

Female Chorus: Sierra Buffum, Meredith Montgomery, Briana Morris, Lexi Saunders, Katie Sherman, Kristin Walker

*denotes member of Actors' Equity Association


KEVIN V. SMITH is a director, playwright, and Jeff-nominated actor, and a Theatre Y company member. Medea marks his 11th collaboration with Theatre Y Artistic Director Melissa Lorraine. His directorial credits for Theatre Y include James Joyce's Exiles ("Stylized and imaginative staging, questions of the 'exile' women especially find in unequal domestic arrangements loom large"-Chicago Tribune), Albert Camus' The Misunderstanding ("Smith directs this deftly, unapologetically, and in search of a new paradigm for what is considered acceptable theater in America"-Chicago Critic), the original auteur dance piece The Ash Girls and the Prince of Nothing, and the collage piece An Evening of Visky (co-directed with Lorraine). Acting credits for Theatre Y include Philip Ridley's Vincent River (Best Actor of 2011 by Chicago Stage Review), The Misunderstanding, The Ash Girls, and An Evening of Visky. He also assistant directed Karin Coonrod's production of Juliet for Theatre Y. Off-Broadway acting credits include EgoPo's notorious production of The Maids by Jean Genet. Other selected acting credits include Douglas Maxwell's Our Bad Magnet at Mary-Arrchie Theatre (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination, Best Supporting Actor in a Play), Mary Zimmerman's production of Shakespeare's Pericles at Goodman Theatre, The Conduct of Life by Maria Irene Fornes with Tooth and Nail Ensmeble, Chekhov's Three Sisters at The Gift, the title role in Macbeth with Candid Theatre Company, and, most recently, Bernard-Marie Koltes' solo piece Night Just Before the Forest with Lake Como in Rome. He is the author of the full-length plays Elena and Love Child. He trained in New Orleans under Lane Savadove. He recently returned from a year in Kyiv, Ukraine and Bucharest, Romania.

MELISSA LORRAINE is the Artistic Director of Theatre Y. Although, according to the Chicago Reader, she remains "egregiously under-known," she has covered the Arts section of the New York Times with a rave review from lead critic Ben Brantley, was awarded an Orgie award for "Best Actress" in 2010, and was named one of the 6 Stars of 2012 by the Chicago Reader. Directorial credits include Vincent River, which placed in Chicago Stage Review's top-ten best productions of 2011, and The Binding, which was recently featured as a cover story in the Chicago Reader.

CARLO LORENZO GARCIA is an actor and artist. He portrayed Johnny in the independent feature Helix, featuring Alexa Vega and Austin O'Brien and Mr. Cruz in Anything's Possible. He is the company manager of Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co, a Chicago-based storefront theater and has appeared in a variety of theatre and film projects. He is also an Associate Artist with Chicago Dramatists. Other regional theater credits include: Goodman Theatre, Teatro Vista, Vineyard Arts Project, Strawdog, Collaboraction, Greasy Joan & Co., Teatro Luna, The Free Associates, and Walkabout Theater at Lookingglass.

SIMINA CONTRAS received a BA in Acting from the University of Sibiu, Romania and was seen on the stages of The National Theatre in Sibiu and Bucharest in more than 50 productions directed by noted European directors. She has also performed in France, the UK, and Germany. In Chicago, she is a company member of Trap Door Theatre, where her credits include Blood on the Cat's Neck, The Balcony and the critically acclaimed Chicago production and European Tour of Matej Visniec's The Word Progress on my Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True. Elsewhere in Chicago, since her arrival in 2011, she has worked with Oracle Productions (The Sandman), Right Brain Project (Titus Andronicus) and Saint Sebastian Players Theatre (The Elephant Man).

ABOUT THEATRE Y: THEATRE Y creates poetic and visceral theater, mines the contradictions of the human experience, and challenges audiences to find universally shared meaning. Theatre Y was founded in 2006, by actor Melissa Lorraine and director Christopher Markle. The company is steeped in the theatrical traditions of Eastern Europe and is known for its highly-physical, avant-garde style. Theatre Y has a deep commitment to creating global partnerships between the creative Chicago community and international artists, and, in addition to hosting international playwrights and choreographers, has performed coast to coast, as well as in Romania, Slovakia, Italy, Canada, Hungary, Israel, and Palestine.

Related Articles View More Chicago Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You