Seongbukdong Beedoolkee Theatre
"MEDEA on Media"
June 16, 2021
Kim Hyun Tak, art director
This Seoul, Korea-based innovative contemporary theatre company delivers a completely original take on the enduring Greek tragedy of Medea, recasting the ancient tale as a commentary on contemporary media and serving it to the audience in outrageous ways, including talk shows, action movies, Disney cartoons, and an Instagrammable yoga class. With plenty of physicality and a dash of silliness, MEDEA on Media is also clever and profound.
Led by director Kim Hyun-tak, Seongbukdong Beedoolkee Theatre freely deconstructs the texts of both well-known masterpieces and modern Korean dramas to recreate them, incorporating contemporary social issues. Often, Kim’s performances use a different theatrical style depending on the material and topic, such as dance theatre, melodramatic film, or physical theatre, and most of them include active audience participation.
Ultimately, the tragedy of Medea is caused by the monster that is the media, which we summon and relish in daily. Here, this media refers to every means to satisfy desires that feed on violence and obscenity while hiding and ridiculing the truth and the good and forcing certain ideologies. It breaks down the wall between reality and fiction through recurrent images and sound, providing a pretext for distorted judgment and choices.
The performance follows Medea as she draws near to the murder and focuses on the roles that today’s media could have played. The piece then configures them into different channels and presents them to the audience like a studio version of a TV program. The piece asserts that not only are the media involved in Medea’s crime, but the people watching it, as well. MEDEA on Media encourages harmonious coexistence of media and the society.
As in the original play, Medea betrays her family to follow her husband Jason, but when he abandons her for Creusa, the daughter of Creon, Medea decides to avenge. MEDEA on Media brings scenes from the original play into television, one of the most common media of our time. The fight between Jason and Medea happens on a television talk show; the scene where Creon banishes Medea turns into a melodrama; the nurse’s lamentation takes the form of a documentary; Aegeus’ promise of sanctuary is referred to as the pleasure of an adult channel. Fleeting scenes, loud noises, and recurring sensational images cause empty laughter and interest, which numb the audience of the murder at hand. Like the chorus behind the veil of anonymity, the audience abets all, without guilt or remorse.
This is the first performance by Seongbukdong Beedoolkee Theatre at the Moss Arts Center.
MEDEA on Media is co-presented with the Korean Cultural Center New York to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ROK-U.S. Alliance. This program is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea and the Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange as part of the Traveling Korean Arts Project.