AN INTERVIEW WITH MEDEA DIRECTOR Jenna Tamimi
Jenna Tamimi, Adjunct Professor of Theatre and Director of Lewis & Clark’s upcoming main stage production of Euripides’s Medea, talks about the creative choices behind the adaptation of the ancient classic and the collaborative experience.
It is a very early example in Western drama of an exploration of the interiority of the female character - I believe it’s one of the first examples. Whenever I pick a play, I like to try to answer the question “Why here, why now?”. For me, a lot of the questions surrounding a woman’s autonomy and the hardships of her being trapped in the domestic realm are still themes that are prevalent today.
What’s behind the choice to set Medea in an idealized 1950’s America?
I knew right off the bat that I would want to put on Medea using a 1950s aesthetic, and I felt that with the reverberations of “Make America Great Again” still ringing in our ears, that this could be a very timely piece to put on with this 1950s aesthetic. I think that when people say that or when they think about that, perhaps what’s in their head is this imagined 1950s white-picket-fence-traditional-family, which, as you’ll see in our production, we really try to unpack and expose as dangerous.
This production has been led by a team of student designers. What has that collaboration been like for you as the director?
It’s been so inspiring to see how driven and professional our student design team has been. They’ve been so very dedicated, and it’s been fun to really see how much they can accomplish - really thrilling. I love to wear the director cap and the professor cap at the same time, and I think that we’ve all been able to learn a lot from each other. To see them flourish and make art has been very moving. I’ve been especially taken aback by their dramaturgical work, the reasons they have behind every choice. It has never just been because “oh, that looks good”. They have such a strong dramaturgical response.
This is your second production as director at Lewis & Clark. What are the challenges, and more importantly, the rewards?
I came to Lewis and Clark at such a difficult time during the pandemic. The first play, The Secretaries, was under a much harsher and stricter protocol, so that was definitely a challenge. This is my first production here where we’re actually not trapped behind plexiglass, and that is so great! It has been such a rewarding experience and I love being able to direct and work with students. I love merging the art making process with the learning process and finding new and exciting ways to merge practice and theory. I’d say this is one of my main goals as a practitioner
and an educator.
Friday, Saturday, March 11, 12, 7:30pm Sunday, March 13, 2pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, March 15, 16, 17, 7:30pm