“La Medea,” the reimagining of the Medea story through the lens of a live Latin-disco variety show,comes to Miami Thursday through Sunday in an event that promises a shakeup of genres to tell the story of one of Greek mythologies most infamous women.
Presented by Miami Dade College’s MDC Live Arts, the work includes music and dance, as well as the creation of a film, and live stream, all in front of a live audience that will serve as a Greek chorus.
“I wanted to create a kaleidoscopic multiple genre work that would pay homage to the Medea myth, but also be fun and wild within the realm of the disco pop variety shows that were inspired by my childhood,” says Yara Travieso, the show’s creator, who is a Miami native.
In the Euripides story, Medea is a woman that is so consumed with hatred that, after her husband deserts her, she is driven to murder her own children in vengeance.
“I wanted to dig deeper, to embody Medea as a real person in a world that is improbably problematic to her. It makes me sad to think of her as she’s been depicted as a brute, savage woman who can’t be trusted and would do anything to kill a man,” she says.
Travieso’s dismantling of Medea’s original narrative challenges the idea of a “dangerous,” “hysterical,” foreign woman, instead revealing an infinite woman that rejects the limited gaze imposed on her.
To do so, Travieso creates a spectacle in which performers and camera operators play the characters, while the studio audience “acts as the Greek chorus,” she says.
The plot centers on La Medea, the story’s protagonist, in a TV tell-all special and it employs a wild mash-up of genres, shifting seamlessly between dance and music, talk show and telenovela, scripted on-camera action and unscripted behind-the-scenes plot twists.
If all this sounds a little wild, well, it doesn’t to Travieso. A Miamian of Cuban and Venezuelan descent, she grew up on Spanish language variety shows, which hop back-and-forth between genres to tell their stories, she says.
“I used to watch a lot of different variety shows that had many elements, using telenovela (Latin soap opera),a live music concert, and also a talk show, so I never felt it would be strange to tell it this way,” she says, pointing to “Sábado Gigante,” the record-breaking Spanish language TV variety show that was wildly popular here, as an example.
But it’s not all fun -- the story of Medea, who is both a woman and a foreigner, holds a powerful important message for today, she says.
“In terms of how women are discussed, and immigrants -- as dangerous foreigners instead of as our brothers and sisters, looking for a home, we are being told a toxic narrative, and I’m really interested in dismantling that,” she says.
Travieso, who graduated from the New World School for the Arts, before going to study at Julliard, is the writer, director, and choreographer. Sam Crawford, a composer from Brooklyn, N.Y., composed the music and libretto, which will be performed by the band, “Jason and the Argonauts,” a five piece band.
“La Medea”debuted last yearat the Bric Arts/ PS 122’s COIL Festival in Brooklyn, N.Y., but Kathryn García, the executive director of MDC Live Arts, learned about La Medea when she met Travieso at a conference two years ago.
“What she has created breaks the boundaries of conventional performance; melding music, film, dance, theater and even the internet, all while erasing the line between audience and performer. It is truly an extraordinary and unforgettable experience, which is exactly what we are always looking for,” says García.
“Plus, when we learned Yara was from Miami, that’s what sealed the deal,” she added.
“La Medea” will be performed at Sandrell Rivers Theater, 6103 NW 7th Ave. Miami, FL, 33127, Thursday- Sunday, Oct. 25-27, all performances at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35. For tickets: www.mdclivearts.org