All female cast reclaiming Medea for modern era

Bristol Old Vic today announced a brand new version of Medea which will weave together the poetic Greek tragedy by Euripides and a contemporary story of female injustice, written by Chino Odimba and performed by an all-female cast. At a time when powerful politicians are marginalising female voices, powerful women are undermined by elements of the press, and feminism is forced to revisit old battles, Medea is a bold and timely re-interpretation of the ultimate “nasty woman”.

During the telling of Euripides’ Medea, the contemporary story of single mother, Maddy, is woven within the narrative - two women who exist thousands of years apart, both seeking retribution against injustice at the hands of the men they loved. Inspired by the Medea myth as she herself begins to lose control, Maddy finds the strength to regain her voice and ultimately her future.

The inimitable Akiya Henry will play the dual roles of Medea and Maddy. Recent work includes Emma Rice’s The Little Matchgirl and Twelfth Night for Shakespeare’s Globe and she is a regular collaborator with the National Theatre, RSC and Theatre 503. Her work at Bristol Old Vic includes the original cast of Swallows and Amazons (West End and Tour) and “Hermia” in the smash-hit international touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The cast also includes Michelle Fox (King Lear - Bristol Old Vic), Eleanor Jackson (Trojan Women - Bristol Old Vic), Kezrena James (Sleeping Beauty - Bristol Old Vic), Stephanie Levi-John (My Mother Medea – Unicorn Theatre) and Jessica Temple (King Lear – Bristol Old Vic). Together the cast create a chorus bridging the ancient and modern worlds of the story, taking inspiration from their own musical influences including gospel, soul and jazz, and blending this with ancient music, percussion and movement.

Writer Chino Odimba was born in Nigeria, raised in London and now lives in Bristol. Past work includes Women Embrace Two (Bristol Old Vic), An Ode to Adam (The Ustinov Theatre) and The Bird Woman of Lewisham (Story Project at Arcola Theatre). She has written for Clean Break and had work performed at the RSC and the National Theatre.  She is a winner of the Channel 4 Playwright Scheme and was a finalist for the Alfred Fagon Award (2014) and the Bruntwood Playwrights Award (2015) for her play Wild is De Wind. Chino is currently under commission for Eclipse Theatre’s Revolution Mix project (Bristol Old Vic), and as the Channel 4 Playwright at Talawa Theatre. She is also working on a modern retelling of Oliver Twist for Theatre Centre London (touring Autumn 2017), and has recently written a new short film Scotch Bonnet for BBC iPlayer. Chino was also writer-on-attachment at Bristol Old Vic in 2014.

Medea is directed by George Mann, in his debut as sole director for Bristol Old Vic. George Mann is co-artistic director of Theatre Ad Infinitum, co-founding the company in 2007 with Nir Paldi.  In 2014, he won the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic’s Quercus Trust Award and has been creating work with Bristol Old Vic since that time. His most recent production was as co-director of the hugely successful Pink Mist, which took Bristol audiences by storm, prior to a UK tour and London run.

Robin Robertson is a poet whose work has won prestigious poetry prizes on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the author of 5 collections of poetry and translations of both The Bacchae and Medea which is described as “energetic and lyrical”, and “striking” (FT.com). Robertson received the EM Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004, the Cholmondeley Award in 2012 and he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

The creative team is completed by award-winning Japanese designer Shizuka Hariu (who has worked internationally with Sadler’s Wells, The New National Theatre Tokyo, Charleroi Danses and Akram Khan Company), sound designer Jon Nicholls (Hamlet -RSC; Good Canary – Rose Theatre Kingston) and lighting designer Katharine Williams (Two Man Show - UK touring; Am I Dead Yet - Bush Theatre).

Medea Casting Announcement 

Image: L-R: Michelle Fox, Akiya Henry, Eleanor Jackson, Kezrena James, Stephanie Levi-John and Jessica Temple