The timeless tragedy of love, power, and revenge in Euripides' "Medea"
comes to life under the guiding hands of guest director Paul Wiedner
in the Martha R. Tatum Theatre at The University of Southern Mississippi
Feb. 26-March 1 and again March 10-12.
director of the Hartford (Conn.) Stage Company for 12 years, teams
up with the Department of Theatre and Dance at Southern Miss thanks
to a long-time acquaintance with department chair Frank Kuhn.
met Paul Weidner when I stage managed for him at the Hartford Stage
Company," Kuhn explained. "Through the years, we have
been in touch through the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
When the (Southern Miss theatre) faculty decided to invite a guest
director in for this year's season, I mentioned the possibility
of inviting Paul.
was excited at the prospect, though we doubted we could engage him.
When he agreed to direct the project, we knew we would have something
Southern Miss theatre program is not near a major metropolitan theater
center, Kuhn stressed the importance of bringing in artists who
are active in the business to work with the students, and his faculty
an "ideal" choice because of his considerable experience
as a professional director and his years teaching at New York University-one
of the premiere training programs in the United States. Kuhn said
Weidner has "an ease" with students.
extraordinarily fortunate that our students can work with someone
who has Mr. Weidner's depth and breadth of experience on national
and international stages," Kuhn said. "He is highly revered
in the profession and has held an office in the Society of Stage
Directors and Choreographers, the national stage directors' union,
for most of the last decade.
Having a varied
career, Wiedner holds an M.F.A. from the Yale Drama School and has
served on the board of directors of the Theater Communications Group
and, more recently, as the secretary of the board of the Society
for Stage Directors and Choreographers. He has guest-directed for
the Seattle Repertory, Arena Stage, the Asolo Theater, Denver Center,
Trinity Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory and in New Zealand, Estonia,
promotes the idea of students working with professionals.
comes a point in the training of performers--actors, singers, dancers,
musicians--when the classroom ends, and the performance has to start,"
Weidner said. "This moment is the beginning of the student's
preparation for the 'real world' of performing, of--to put it bluntly--show
biz. It's the moment to learn what it's going to be like away from
As for the
play itself, Euripides' "Medea" is a timeless Greek tragedy-timeless
because it addresses life situations encountered still today.
that the elements of "Medea," the battle between men and
women, betrayal, suspicion, jealousy, vengeance, political manipulation,
duplicity, violence toward people, violence toward children, tribalism,
occultism, xenophobia, extremism, the clash of cultures East and
West, are "unfortunately as much with us in places all over
the world as they were 2000 years ago in Greece, where Asia and
the emerging West met head-on."
2000 years ago, Greek dramas were more like what we think of as
operas," Weidner said. "There was a lot of music, dancing,
singing--all of it completely lost to us now over the years--which,
like opera, elevated the events onstage to a different plane from
the last of the major Greek playwrights, tended to move things toward
a more realistic treatment, especially in his somewhat shocking
interest in the role of women in society."
2000 years, Weidner chose an adaptation of the play by Robinson
Jeffers, a 20th-century American poet.
is also more realistic--it is poetic, but well-grounded, flexible,
diverse, and psychologically rich," Weidner said. "Our
aim in this production is not to play poetry but to dig into the
very specific human motives and emotions that charge the events
of the story."
To add yet
another special facet to the Southern Miss production, Professor
Monica Hayes, the head of the acting program in the department,
will play the title role of Medea.
Hayes, a member
of the Actors Equity Association, has acted professionally in both
the United States and England. Local audiences have seen her work
on the Southern Miss mainstage in past productions of Shakespeare's
"As You Like It," Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"
and in a showcase of "Love Stories."
some time with Monica Hayes, who's playing the title role, briefly
getting to know her some and explaining my approach to the show,"
Weidner said. "I think it's terrific if early on you can include
the leading actor in on what direction a show is taking."
"Medea" are now on sale at the Southern Miss Ticket Office.
The show runs Feb. 26-March 1 at 7:30 p.m. (2 p.m. on Feb. 29) and
again March 10-12 at 7:30 p.m. nightly.
$10 for general admission, $8 for Southern Miss faculty and staff
and senior citizens and $6 for students. Call the Southern Miss
Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425 for tickets, or
order online at www.usm.edu/tickets.
are available as well March 8 and 9 at 10 a.m. Call the Department
of Theatre and Dance at (601) 266-4994 for more information.