THE TRAGEDY OF MEDUSA
A Note from the Director
I finished the working draft of the The Tragedy of Medusa the same week the Kavanaugh hearings swept our nation. Sexual assault, a topic usually reserved for hushed tones and late night disclosures, was suddenly everywhere. What constitutes sexual violence? Whose stories matter? What do we do with perpetrators? What do we do with survivors? How many years must pass before the slate is wiped clean? These questions were pounding in America’s collective conscience.
And then the hearings were over. The conversations about our national attitude on sexual assault ended as quickly as they began. Kavanaugh was confirmed, the world moved on. But I still had Medusa to deal with.
I quickly learned that Ancient Greek mythology is not the place to go if you’re looking to avoid hard questions about sexual violence. What are we, culturally, supposed to do with the fact that almost all of our Greco-Roman myths, the myths which inspired the basis of so much of our western theatrical canon, are punctuated by rape? How can we act like we - as a culture - have an evolved understanding of intimate violence when our creation story for an entire continent revolves around Zeus claiming Europa’s body and turning her into the earth? When we walk through the Getty and the most beautiful European art there depicts abduction or violence against women? This violence has become so normalized, we view it as part of our cultural legacy. Even if we don’t all grow up learning these myths, nuanced and disconcerting conceptions of sex and violence have been sewn so intimately into the fabric of our culture we can hardly recognize them.
So, if you’re still with me, I think that leaves us with two options. For one, we could admit that mythology, the skeleton of our culture, is full of horrific acts of violence and dismiss it as barbaric and dated. On the other hand, we could take the leap of faith that violence exists as frequently as it does in these stories for a reason, and begin to tilt the focus. We can tilt the focus to see the women, the queers, the foreigners, the kind men, and, yes, the monsters. We can reinvent their stories based off of the injuries in our own hearts, and see what monstrosity looks like looking out from Medusa’s stoney eyes. We can take these stories and see that the media we have been longing for that chases justice and affirms our experiences has been waiting for us, we just haven’t had control over its production.
It’s time we take back these myths. It’s time we look each other in the eyes, even if in that truth of connection, the stories we no longer need die.
Thank you for creating new mythology with us, and bearing witness to the incredible work of this team. I am indebted to you and the community we are creating.
Artistic Director of Project Nongenue
Writer and Director of The Tragedy of Medusa