“Medea is a trojan horse of relevant themes” says playwright Emilio Williams

Emilio photoAs playwright and director Emilio Williams prepares for the Chicago run of Medea’s Got Some Issues, he was interviewed by Maura Junius. Maura studied theater at St. Catherine University and in the MFA program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. As the Marketing Director for the Raven Foundation, she has led post-show discussions for the Chicago Theater Sweatshop and AstonRep Theater Company.

 

MJ: Medea is a notorious character who has been represented in theater, dance and opera in the 2,500 years since Euripides wrote his play. What inspired you to create this expression of Medea?
EW: I wanted to try to vindicate the most difficult character to defend. In the process, I rediscovered this amazing play. It’s a trojan horse of themes that are extremely relevant today: the sexist double standard we apply to men and women, the tragic consequences of xenophobia, the danger of justifying violence, and, one that is extremely timely due to the current political climate, the abuses of demagoguery.

 

MJ: Jason’s desertion of Medea, whose sorcery had aided him in gaining the Golden Fleece and becoming a hero, is a pattern still being played out today. Do you believe her rage and revenge are justified?
EW: In the original Euripides, Medea makes a passionate defense of her rage. The women of the chorus agree with her, until she crosses the line from rage to revenge, by deciding to kill Jason’s kids. At that time, she loses the support of the other housewives. Interestingly enough, Euripides allows Medea to leave at the end, triumphant, in a winged chariot. Euripides wrote at the ending as a cautionary tale for men about what could happen to them if they continued to mistreat women using them only for sex, procreation and political gain. I think violent revenge is always justifiable in art, particularly in  theater and movies. The hope of the catharsis is that if we kill each other in fiction, we won’t need to do it in real life (not sure if it works that way but the theory is lovely).

 

MJ: Women are often publicly criticized when they become “too strident.” Your writing gives Medea a broad range of expression from tenderness to rage. Are you inviting women to be equally free in expressing the whole range of their emotions?
EW: Women don’t need to be invited to anything. They can invite themselves. If anything, I wish this play could inspire men and women to speak up more often and more freely. And to use humor as a weapon. It’s more a personal wish than an intended lesson.

 

MJ: Many articles have been written arguing whether Medea as a feminist. Do you view her as a feminist? Why?

EW: Yes. Medea as written by Euripides is a feminist because she sheds light onto the double standards and the unfairness of Jason’s and Creon’s behavior.

MJ: This production of Medea’s Got Some Issues is the fourth. Each one is specially crafted for the city and the actress. What gives one its Chicago 2016 flavor?
EW: Umm… I don’t think I can answer this question without ruining a surprise or two. Let’s say, I have used Euripides as an excuse to have my own catharsis. Come and see. It’s only $20.00 a ticket!
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