Expect the Unexpected: An Actor on the new production of the Greek Tragedy “Medea”

Written for Long Story Short by Austin Shakespeare

Sharing thoughts from actress, Helen Merino, who is playing the “Chorus” in Medea

Helen played the title role in Hamlet at the Rollins, also Noel Coward’s Design for Living and The Belle of Amherst .

“I’m at that pleasant time in my life, when I’m discovering that I know much more than I thought. Of course, there’s also the opposite – that disorienting, humbling moment when you realize you’ve been nodding your head for decades over something you haven’t bothered to learn about. The latter was Medea for me.  So now I’m reading it. I’m studying it and memorizing it. In doing so, I discover that I must have had expectations about it. I mean, you can’t be shocked without expectations. And I am. I’m shocked!

What I expected, and I did get it, was a story of GIANT PEOPLE. The characters, especially Medea, satisfy my need for creatures that can populate myths. But then, in the script, someone will say something odd. They’ll say something private, too private and weird to be housed in a myth. It will be something surprisingly irreverent, so disappointed, annoyed, touched, insulting or nostalgic. And then this one private statement will flip on a light for me about the character and the story. It will open up notions and sensations that seem eerily real and familiar. As the Chorus Leader, I’ve been bracing myself for the challenges of playing a talking head. Instead she -and she is particularly written as a she  – is this tender, passionate, pissed off and cowardly woman. She very explicitly resents being ignored as a woman; she also fears the costs of loving. She is someone who half luxuriates in the new Greek ideal of individuality but is also tied to a typical civic addiction of the day, bred to cling to her community like a spouse.  The result of all this played out seems part pageant, part journal entry. Which might be exactly what I crave in a theater experience, as an actor and as an audience member. “

10 Reasons see Medea!

  1. Franchelle Stewart Dorn, our Medea, has won national acclaim as a powerful, provocative actress.
  2. You can count on an Austin Shakespeare show to be entertaining and engaging!
  3. Artistic Director Ann Ciccolella makes our show ring with contemporary relevance and classical magnificence.
  4. Erik Mathew is Jason.  New to Austin, Erik drew audience acclaim for his romantic, magnetic portrayal in Stoppard’s The Invention of Love.
  5. Helen Merino, one of Austin’s favorites, is sure to make the Greek chorus human in sentiment and heroic in scale.
  6. Award Winning Choreographer Toni Bravo will bring an international flavor to the modern dancers’ movement.
  7. McLeish/Raphael’s translation is both contemporary in its theatricality and classical in its faithfulness to the original Greek — it was a hit on Broadway production with Fiona Shaw.
  8. Great Austin Shakespeare actors including: Johanna Whitmore, Keith Paxton, Reginald Brown, and Michael Miller and new to the company Jamie Parker!
  9. Innovative Design from: Emily Gilardi, costumes; Tara Houston, set; Patrick Anthony, Lights.
  10. New music especially composed by classical prof, Jim Hankinson & Texas State Music Theater Director, Greg Bolin!
  11. The compelling Medea story of love, betrayal and revenge that has seared audiences for over 2,000 years!


Medea is a 90 min one act play.  After EVERY performance we have a 10 min “Talk Back”  where you in the audience gets to talk with actors and our director.

Austin Shakespeare presents Medea, February 17- March 6 in the Rollins Studio Theatre. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here.

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