From powerhouse actors to a set that will take your breath away and a compelling script to match, there are countless reasons Austin Shakespeare’s upcoming MEDEA is one not-to-miss. We’ve compiled the top ten reasons you need to see this 2500-year-old classic that still resonates today.
1. Franchelle Stewart Dorn, our Medea, has won national acclaim as a powerful, provocative actress with 40 years of experience at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C, Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Yale Repertory Theater, Long Wharf, Great Lakes Theater Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Arizona State Theatre, Chautauqua Theatre, Guthrie theatre and at both The State and Zach theaters in Austin. She spent the 2014 season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and last spring Off-Broadway in ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore.
Fran has also been seen on TV in “Law and Order” and fondly remembers her role as Dr. Rita Madison on NBC’s “Another World.” She has appeared the films: “Die Hard With a Vengeance”, “Chances Are” and “Raise the Titanic.” She can also be seen on one of PBS’ longest running series: “Literary Visions.” Fran has been nominated for seven Helen Hayes Awards, winning three. She has also won The Austin Critics’ Circle Award for her performances in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Mrs. Warren’s Profession and Edge of Peace.
She received her acting training at the Yale School of Drama and is a past head of the acting program in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas, Austin where she remains a senior professor.
2. Artistic Director Ann Ciccolella makes our show ring with contemporary relevance and classical magnificence. Medea marks the 30th production Ann has directed for Austin Shakespeare, including 16 Shakespeares plus works by Wilde, Schiller, Stoppard, Austen, Shaw, Rand and even Sondheim. Productions feature theatrical surprises, luminous performances by actors from New York, Los Angeles and Washington, innovative designs and creative use of space.
3. Erik Mathew is Jason. Relatively new to Austin, Erik drew audience acclaim for his romantic, magnetic portrayal in last season’s production of Stoppard’s The Invention of Love. He has appeared in numerous Shakespeare productions including the prestigious New York Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of As You Like It.
4. Helen Merino, one of Austin’s favorites, is sure to make the Greek Chorus human in sentiment and heroic in scale. Austin Shakespeare audiences will remember her in the title role of Schiller’s Mary Stuart, as Hamlet, as Liberty in Anthem, as Gilda in Coward’s Design for Living, and as Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst.
5. Modern dance from award-winning Choreographer Toni Bravo, who brings an international flavor to the modern dancers’ movement, will enhance the production concept. Originally from Mexico City, Toni has worked and performed all over the world in contemporary and classical dance, bringing a strong intellectual dimension to her work. She teaches and choreographs globally and is based out of Diverse Spaces in Austin. She also directs Ballet Austin’s “Leaps and Bounds” program. Medea will feature 4 dancers as part of the Greek Chorus, adding depth and sensuality to the telling of the story.
6. McLeish/Raphael’s translation of the original Euripides is both contemporary in its theatricality and classical in its faithfulness to the original Greek — it was a hit on Broadway in a production with Fiona Shaw. Raphael is best know for his screenplays: “Two for the Road,” “Far from the Madding Crowd,” “Daisy Miller” and Kubrick’s last film, “Eyes Wide Shut.” McLeish was the most prolific translator of Greek drama in England before his death in 1997, with his translations used by The Royal Shakespeare Company and The National Theatre.
7. Great Austin Shakespeare actors including: Johanna Whitmore (Lady Catherine de Bourg in Pride and Prejudice and Emilia in Othello), Keith Paxton (Chamberlain/Postgate in The Invention of Love, Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew, Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac), Reginald Brown (Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew, Pattison in The Invention of Love, The Dukes in As You Like It), Michael Miller (Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, Iago in Othello, Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice), and new to the company, Jamie Parker!
8. Innovative Designs
Emily Gilardi (Costumes) designed As You Like It for Austin Shakespeare. She received the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Award for excellence in design for The Arabian Nights.
Tara Houston (Set) also designed As You Like It for us. She works around the country, and her design for Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Romeo and Juliet will tour nationally as part of a grant from The National Endowment for the Arts.
9. New music composed by Texas State University Music Theater Director Greg Bolin, based on themes by University of Texas Classics professor, Jim Hankinson, rounds out the unusual, atmospheric production. Frequently a feature of Austin Shakespeare productions, original, modern-themed music will accompany the modern dance and enhance the theatricality of the production.
10. The compelling Medea story of love, betrayal and revenge has seared audiences for over 2,000 years! With its intensity, drama and shocking conclusion, it continues to lure in viewers with a modernity that is still fresh today.