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Dancing queen: ‘La Medea’ turns tragedy into disco TV

Lights, camera, action!: “La Medea,” opening Jan. 20 at Bric Arts Media, presents the Greek tragedy of Medea in the form of a Latin-disco variety show performed, filmed, and edited in front of a live audience and broadcast across the globe.
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It’s a multimedia “Medea!”

A Greek tragedy re-imagined as a Latin-disco variety show will soon cha-cha into a Fort Greene television studio for a production to be filmed, edited, and broadcast live for audiences across the globe. “La Medea,” running from Jan. 20–22 at Bric Arts Media, mashes up the violent Euripides play about a scorned barbarian princess with a pop dance show, and its fiery narrative is intensified by the genre-bending format, said the creator.

“I wanted to tell this in different ways, in different colors, in different genres so we have this kaleidoscope portrait of Medea,” said Yara Travieso, the show’s writer, director, and choreographer. “At the time I was digging into the play, I was obsessing over Italian disco-pop stars who are known for performing on these very gaudy, dramatic television shows. And I thought, ‘This is it’ — pairing these two makes so much sense because a television musical is so over-the-top and it translates the spectacle of the play so well.”

The show follows Medea, a princess whose position in Greek society is threatened when her husband leaves her for another woman. She seeks violent revenge, then escapes to Athens to start a new life. The drama unfolds in a variety of styles, including dance, music, talk show, and telenovela — and will rope in the live studio audience to serve as a Greek chorus, commenting on the characters’ moral dilemmas and progressing the plot. The audience’s role is crucial to the production, said Travieso.

“The live audience helps create this world with us as the film extras,” she said. “They help color the world and help push the narrative with their actions.”

Audience members will also be asked to join a ballroom scene and slow-dance in the background. The show’s camera operators and musicians also become characters, peppering the space and providing behind-the-scenes glimpses at the production’s inner workings, according to Travieso.

And those watching from home can also join the action. The show will be live-streamed on the Dance Films Association website, where Internet viewers can ask questions via an online forum. Producers will select relevant questions and use an earpiece to feed them to performers during a talk show segment. The task is an exciting challenge that lets anyone ask Medea a question and contribute to the show, said Travieso.

“We’re not sure what we’ll get, maybe no one will ask questions,” said Travieso. “But I think that option of anyone, no matter where they are, being able to interact and contribute to the script is powerful.”

“La Medea” at Bric Arts Media [647 Fulton St. between Rockwell and Ashland places, (212) 352–3101, www.bricartsmedia.org]. Jan. 20–21 at 8 pm; Jan. 22 at 2 pm and 7 pm. $20.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 4:41 pm, January 20, 2017
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