Not done with you yet…

 

“The Medea” (Williamstheatre, USA, 2002)

I’ve been thinking about blogging a lot the last year or so, perhaps over thinking the when, how, wherefores… I blog for work (Marionettes & MEP Publishers), but hardly ever for, well, me. I suppose the closest thing is the “micro-blogs” of Twitter and Facebook status updates – not quite the longform musings that sometimes flit about in my mind but never find an opportunity to escape into a public space. But I’m in one of those “reorganisational” stages, so…

The (long-overdue?) impetus came while I was sitting in traffic. I’m around that “Saturn return” point, which – whether true, false, or ambivalent – has provided an opportunity for a different kind of reflection and engagement with pretty much everything. I was mulling something over, and chuckled to myself thinking, “Saturn has not done with me yet”. And just as sometimes happens, it triggered a flashback to something I hadn’t thought about in years. Specifically, my final soliloquy as Medea – that bold, tormented, infanticidal, jilted lover who finally takes her own life. I’d (precociously) played the title role in the Countee Cullen adaptation back in 2002.

Now, I love Greek and classical western theatre. I love the language (in a good translation), the epic story lines, and the legendary – often lethal – agency of its female characters. All of human emotion is distilled into a couple of hours, brought to life by characters drawn from every imaginable human (and divine) archetype. I love reading it, watching it – and I love performing it most of all. I was ridiculously thrilled when my thoughts about Saturn suddenly thrust me into Medea’s closing monologue:

Ye gods of mockery and laughter
That shaped my heart and destiny
When will you shape another as miserable?
Have you not done with me yet?
Have you not glutted your fill on what the human heart can bear
And still beat on?
Evil gods!
What could you engender but evil men?
But neither god nor man shall conquer Medea.

Gee dem gyirl! And she goes on for some time after this, as she’s wont to do. But I remembered it like I’d performed it yesterday. And I felt a tremendous sense of longing to have that kind of bold, arresting language in my mouth again! The kind of text you don’t dare ad lib or fudge in performance, because of the careful way the words have been ordered and chosen by the author to conjure something very, very specific. In a time where we use words so carelessly, dispatching them via BBM, SMS, half-baked social media statuses, and mindless small talk to each other, I miss that kind of theatre. Desperately.

And…it was a good reminder. Medea was a remarkable, complex character. No doubt at my second or even third Saturn return – Universe willing – I shall continue to find new ways of seeing and feeling her, and hope I’ll have a chance to conjure her on stage once again. While I don’t share her capacity for vengeance, or self-destruction, it’s been a trying few years, so I’ve certainly had my moments of vainly cursing and challenging whomever or whatever may have been presiding over the proceedings. The darkness and tragedy aside, I do think about her passion and her drive, her boldness in action, her absolute and unrelenting conviction, and how important it is to have those as we pursue the things (and people) we love. Our greatest weaknesses are also our greatest strengths. And while I am always wary of absolute convictions (they seem often to preclude dispassionate consideration about the validity of those convictions), I think when we are honestly, deeply, passionate about something that ennobles us – and perhaps those around us as well – we have an obligation to honour that.

As a quote I saw today said (I’m big on these quotes and pretty pictures these days, I confess):

The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.

I stand reminded. Hopefully, neither the gods nor classical theatre has done with me yet…in the good way, of course. 😉 Here’s wishing whomever reads this a reunion with all that excites them, sustains them, and makes them better human beings. Glut your fill. 🙂

 

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