The Mechanical Man opens Saturday 8/30 @ 2:30pm! So excited to make my Chicago Fringe Fest debut with fellow Dream Theatre company members, Nicole Roberts, Madelaine Schmitt, and Anna Menekseoglu. Writing and projection design by DTC Artistic Director Jeremy Menekseoglu, and directed by company member Greg Callazzo. Anna also designed our awesome costumes! Check out these photos for our crazy awesome all-girl, silent, steam-punk play of insanity, debauchery, and revenge!
Edge Chicago had some very nice things to say about MEDEA, as well as some kind words about myself!
by Colleen Cottet
Wednesday Aug 20, 2014
Since my first encounter with Greek mythology at the age of nine, I've found myself endlessly fascinated by the stories of these gods and mortals entangled in struggles of power, romance, and intrigue. The story of Jason, hero in the quest for the Golden Fleece, and his sorceress wife Medea is fraught with all the elements of good drama.
This tale of adventure, heroism, betrayal, and murder has been brought to life in all manner of art form: sculpture and paintings, epic poems and novels, operas and, of course, plays. When I discovered that Dream Theatre, an Off-Loop company newly established in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, was bringing its own original adaptation of "Medea" to its intimate stage, I was eager to take it in. In doing so, I was pleased to find a very worthy production to which I'm happy to offer my recommendation.
The story opens at the beachside shack that is home to Medea (Rachel Martindale). Created from the rotting shell of the ship Argo that once brought Jason (Jeremy Menekseoglu) to Medea's land and heart, the shack is a visceral analogy of the demise of a once epic romance.
Medea, descended from gods and once a princess as well as a practitioner of magic, is now a middle-aged woman with two young sons and a husband with a wandering eye. Jason, having grown tired of wife and family in their adopted land of Corinth, has won the heart of the virgin princess Glauce, a maneuver no doubt as politically driven as passionately. Despite having aided in Jason's heroic quests and even committing murder to ensure his success, Medea has been cast away, left now with sons in whom neither parent seems to have interest.
We see Medea scold her sons, Mermerus (Anna W Menekseoglu) and Pheres (Madelaine Schmitt), relentlessly, going so far as dunking Mermerus' head underwater for a perceived slight. She remembers aloud the time before the children's births, when she was young and beautiful and the object of her husband's desire. She clearly blames their presence as a factor in Jason's betrayal, and her contempt is palpable. Jason arrives, and Medea pleads for the return of his affection. But Jason is here to offer Medea a bribe to leave Corinth for good, and to take their sons with her.
Having failed to convince Medea to depart, the youthful and gentle bride-to-be Glauce (Amanda Lynn Meyer) takes matters into her own hands, and brings an offer of her own to the scorned Medea: allow for a peaceful wedding, including the blessing of her bridal gown, and take a position of priestess in a high temple of Hera. Though the offer is made in earnest, Medea's anger soon boils into rage, and she plots to destroy the bride, demoralize her wayward husband, and rid herself of her burdensome children once and for all. The bloody conclusion, seeming inevitable given its players, is interrupted as Hera, Queen of the Gods (Kaitlin Stewart) descends, in deus-ex-machina fashion, to intervene on Medea's behalf.
Dream Theatre's "Medea" was written by Jeremy Menekseoglu, who, in addition to performing as Jason, also directed the production. The language is simple and straightforward, guiding the actors to more intimate performances than one might expect from Greek theatre. The tone of the technical designs (under the direction of technical director Paul Knappenberger) was reminiscent of '50s melodrama, very effective and fitting. The performance space is very small, seating less than 30 by my estimate, and too much grandeur would have no doubt overpowered audience and actor alike.
Given such a small space, the acting is the theatrical element that is most under scrutiny, and the ensemble cast of "Medea" had no weak links.
In particular, Martindale was powerful yet achingly human as Medea, and as Glauce, Meyer had a humble but steadfast presence that was surprising given how typically superficial her role tends to be.
The play as written was very quick-paced, roughly 75 minutes with no intermission. As a technical aside (and because I'm fussy), a mid-performance scene change dragged too long, taking the audience out of the stream of the action. It would have been more appropriate to find ways to quicken the change, or commit to an actual intermission, for the comfort of the audience.
According to the program, Dream Theatre's mission "is to shatter the barrier between actor and audience... and deliver the highest art possible in its most raw, unflinching, and entertaining form." With this solid production of "Medea" under its belt, Dream Theatre will no doubt continue to execute its mission in its new home for many productions to come.
"Medea" runs through September 14 at Dream Theatre Company, 5026 N Lincoln Ave in Chicago. For information or tickets, call 773-552-8616 or visit www.dreamtheatrecompany.com
Announcement time! In light of an actor having to drop out, I have been promoted from "button pusher" to "Mrs. Heckwick/Prossie" in Dream Theatre Company's The Mechanical Man, to be performed at the Chicago Fringe Festival! While unexpected, this is exciting news, as many of you may have gathered, I'm a girl who likes to be on stage. This silent all-girl steampunk German Expressionist play is like nothing else you'll see in Chicago, let alone at the Chicago Fringe. We started rehearsing tonight, tried on some costumes, and I am already in love with this show.
Anna Menekseoglu, Managing Director of Dream Theatre, actor, director, knitter, costumer, and podcaster extraordinaire, did a podcast interview with Vinnie Lacey, co-founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Fringe. Anna teases Mechanical Man, reveals the origins of Dream Theatre, plugs MEDEA currently running at DTC, and explains the wonders of yarn bombing the Fringe. Check out the podcast below!
Kind words from Chicago Theatre Beat for this must see show!!
Review by Joy Campbell
In Jeremy Menekseoglu’s creative re-imagining of the Euripides tale of a woman scorned, the classic tragedy is made more complex with the addition of personal and marital issues of our age. Characters are more layered, and the line between good and bad is less clearly drawn.
In this tale, it’s not the temptation of a younger woman and the promise of power that lures away Jason (Jeremy Menekseoglu); long before the young princess entered his life, his marriage to Medea (Rachel Martindale) had collapsed. Allegations of slovenliness, depression, and unwanted parenthood show us that even the marriage between an Argonaut and an exotic witch is not immune to the banalities of day-to-day pressures. At open, we see Medea as a Corinthian version of trailer trash, living in a filthy shack with her two young sons. She walks around half undressed, disheveled, and emotionally and physically dominating her sons, the sullen Mermerus (Anna W. Menekseoglu), and nervous Pheres (Madelaine Schmitt).
The two sons, a mere device in Euripides’ original, are more of a central focus here as the play examines the effects on children when caught in the battle between hostile, self-involved parents. Glauce (Amanda Lynn Meyer) is the virgin princess of Corinth who, ironically, tries to reconcile the family into a semblance of civility, and who treats the boys with love. She offers the olive branch to Medea with an offer worthy of Medea’s abilities. Her kindess to Mermerus and Pheres melts Jason’s heart, and he realizes his regret at not being there for them. Rather than a housebreaker, she’s the reconciling voice of sanity in their domestic mess.
As Medea, Martindale is outstanding, carrying the intensity of her characters and the poetry of Menekseoglu’s script, shifting easily from beaten-down has-been to proud priestess who is either a deeply intuitive woman or a psychopath unhinged by bitternes. As Jason, Jeremy Menekseoglu’s range is impressive, going from pompous jerk to sympathetic father.
The script is beautiful, and the language rich and powerful. Menekseoglu shows a range of skills as director, actor, and scenic and sound designer: his use of music and sound effects is immersive. Anna W. Menekseoglu’s lighting design combines with the skillful use of sound to transform the small, minimalist set into a foreign land filled with black magic and supernatural events.
The cast is solid, and the simple set and minimal props combined with Martindales’s modern costume designs create a sense of a fable hanging in time. The Deus Ex Machina is, oddly, presented fairly traditionally; I would have expected something a bit less predictable; the same goes for the resolution. Still, these are minor issues in an otherwise very enjoyable show. Dream Theatre takes some interesting chances, and shows a novel approach to old themes.
Rating: ★★★ Medea continues through September 14th at Dream Laboratory, 5026 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Fridays-Sundays at 8pm (no shows Sunday, Aug 31 or Friday, Sept 5). Tickets are $20, and are available online through Artful.ly (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at DreamTheatreCompany.com. (Running time: 90 minutes, includes an intermission)
Rachel Martindale (Medea), Anna W. Menekseoglu (Mermerus), Madelaine Schmitt (Pheres), Jeremy Menekseoglu (Jason), Amanda Lynn Meyer (Glauce), Kaitlin Stewart (Hera, Glauce understudy)
behind the scenes
Jeremy Menekseoglu (adaptor, director, scenic design, sound design), Collin Carroll (stage manager),Anna W. Menekseoglu (lighting design, co-prop design), Rachel Martindale (costume design), Dana Von (co-prop design), Paul Knappenberger (technical director)
Another excellent review for MEDEA!
When: 8/8-9/14: Fri-Sun 8 PM
Jeremy Menekseoglu continues his rigorous, bracing reimaginings of classical Greek tragedies with his most idiosyncratic offering yet at Dream Theatre Company. His Medea, a powerful witch whose sorcery won Jason all his famous battles, is now middle-aged, fleshy, and abandoned. Living in squalor in the remains of the Argo, she blames her marriage’s demise on her children, for whom neither she nor Jason have any affection. In typical form, Menekseoglu artfully combines muscular poetry, well-chosen anachronisms, and epic cruelty. But this time the seams occasionally show, and the cast struggles to find a unifying tone. Even the normally unimpeachable Rachel Martindale as Medea struggles against the script’s ever-shifting currents. Still, Menekseoglu’s imperfect vision is consistently interesting and intermittently thrilling. He’s one rewrite away from another great play. — Justin Hayford
From the Newcity Stage review by Hugh Iglarsh: Medea/Dream Theatre Company
"And the acting is like nothing else you'll see on a local stage."
Congratulations to the amazing team at Dream Theatre Company!
The character of Medea haunted Greek culture like a nightmare, embodying patriarchal anxiety and guilt. It’s a fitting subject for Dream Theatre Company’s resident playwright Jeremy Menekseoglu, who has taken Euripides’ familiar tale of the horrific vengeance of a woman wronged and transformed it, for better or worse, into a graphic horror story suited for an age not of gods, heroes and Fate, but rather of family dysfunction and random violence.
Rachel Martindale is a seriously crazy Medea, enraged at her husband Jason of Golden Fleece fame. Jason–played by the same Jeremy Menekseoglu, who also directed and designed the production–has dumped her for the young and pretty Glauce, princess of Corinth (Amanda Lynn Meyer). With a royal marriage in the offing, the graspingly opportunistic Jason has use neither for his aging wife–whose sorcery skills saved his fleece many times during his Argonaut days–nor their two neglected young sons, Mermerus and Pheres, played convincingly by Anna Menekseoglu and Madelaine Schmitt, respectively. The parentally challenged Jason cannot even remember their names, referring to them simply as “your sons.” Medea also is not the epitome of unconditional love, waterboarding her children as a disciplinary measure. What most distinguishes this version from the Euripidean original is that the kids are not props and plot devices, but rather the moral center of the play–the tragedy is theirs, not their absent and abusive parents’.
On its own hyper-subjective terms, the play works well. Dream Theatre seems to be basically a one-man show, built around Jeremy Menekseoglu’s interesting artistic and personal vision, and every moment has a quirky intensity and a what-will-they-do-next suspense. The haunted-house set, lurid-toned lighting and kitschy but catchy background music, juxtaposed against the classic text, together create a campily sinister mood, somewhere between Caligari and Rocky Horror.
And the acting is like nothing else you’ll see on a local stage. In an age of flattened affect and minimal selfhood, here we have an almost Victorian display of posing and mugging, verging on parody yet controlled and effective. Jason’s entrance is a masterpiece of nonverbal revelation, with his toy-soldier stiffness and pomposity betrayed by a twitchy, distracted air that testifies to his deep-seated fear of his abandoned wife and her witchy ways. Martindale’s Medea is a force of nature, cowing all those around her, including even Hera, queen of the gods (played by Kaitlin Stewart), who saves her at the end from Jason’s desperate attack.
“She’s a demon,” protests Jason. “Yes, but she’s my demon,” retorts Hera, the serially cheated-upon wife of Zeus.
Here the adaptation falters. Euripides, like all the Greek tragedians, was obsessed with the workings of justice in a society on the cusp between archaic religious morality and the emerging, reason-driven humanism. Tragedy was an attempt to revisit the primitive myths in light of newer values, such as–in Medea’s case–the basic injustice and dire consequences of flouting marriage vows and treating women and children as disposable property. Euripides’ Medea continues to fascinate us exactly because she’s not a monster, but a mother in desperate straits who knows that in her world there’s no future for an abandoned wife or rejected child. Her motivation is anger and vengeance, mixed with an element of twisted compassion. In this updated version, all is reduced to petty jealousy and resentment, with Jason and Medea recast as bickering narcissists who richly deserve each other, but are not worthy of their children. Medea’s supernatural rescue is puzzling, considering that the idea of her becoming a priestess of Hera was broached by the princess Glauce, whom she has just murdered.
Preserving all of the original’s considerable cruelty and gore, but less of its sublimity and scope, this “Medea” still packs a punch. As I write this, youngsters in Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere are dying in wars they had nothing to do with. Sadly, the theme of children sacrificed on the altar of adult insanity remains as relevant and necessary as ever. (Hugh Iglarsh)
Dream Theatre Company, 5026 North Lincoln, (773)552-8616, dreamtheatrecompany.com. $20. Through September 14. (No show August 31 or September 5.)
- See more at: http://newcitystage.com/2014/08/12/review-medeadream-theatre-company/#sthash.RCjLnQdc.dpuf
Opening weekend of Jeremy Menekseoglu's MEDEA with Dream Theatre Company was glorious. Thank you to our amazing audiences for helping us kick off this thing with a bang! Some production photos have been added to my MEDEA album courtesy of DTC Artistic Associate, #1 Fan, and Professional Audience Member, Marcia Clark! A couple other bonus photos in there as well.
Many many more chances to see MEDEA before we close! We run every Friday-Sunday @ 8pm through Sept. 14. No performances on Aug. 31 or Sept. 5. Tickets are $20. We take Cash & Credit Cards (Square) at the door. Reservations are strongly recommended as seating is limited to 28 seats per performance! 10 seats are available at Goldstar for 1/2 price every night, but they go fast!
In other news, I will be helping out DTC in another venture, this time behind the scenes! I'll be the board operator (pressing buttons for lights/sound/projections) for the Chicago Fringe Festival performances of The Mechanical Man! This all-girl silent steampunk play is a truly unique experience not to miss, and I am super jazzed to even be a very small part of it. Check out details in my Current Projects section!
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