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A contemporary take on Euripides’ Medea by Chennai’s Theatre Nisha


Shakti in stills from the play
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The ancient Greek tragedy, Medea, by Euripides, was first staged in 431 BC as part of a trilogy. While the other two plays are lost to history, the story of Jason and Medea continues to fascinate generations of theatre practitioners and has seen many iterations on stage.

Chennai’s Theatre Nisha has come up with an adaptation of Medea with Why She Did, What She Did. Directed and performed by Shakthi, the play is designed by V Balakrishnan of Theatre Nisha. It has percussion by Vishwa Bharath and has had its premier in Chennai in December 2023.

Shakti believes the theme of the Medea is relevant to this day. “We would all like to think that we have moved on from the fact that women did not have agency in their lives, the theatre artiste and contemporary dancer, says from home in Chennai. “Unfortunately the idea of agency for a woman is still contested. I would like to believe I live in a world where Medea is irrelevant and a myth, but that is not the case.”

It is a solo performance, where Shakti is joined on stage by the percussionist. Liking to work with the elements of rhythm and movement and being a trained theatre artiste and dancer, Shakti says she has tried to include all these elements in the play.

Shakti has been in theatre for 12 years now and has a diploma in Movement Arts from Attakalari in Bengaluru (2016). A commerce undergraduate in marketing and a postgraduate in English literature, Shakti says she always wanted to be an actor.

“We (Theatre Nisha) also work as theatre trainers in schools and colleges and acting institutions in Chennai. I think that no matter what you study, it only enhances your creativity. For instance, maths is all numbers and dance and music is rhythm and count. If you have studied physics, then that science will help you understand the stage lighting and design better,” says the 32-year-old actor.

Soon she hopes to bring the play, with her perception of Medea to Bengaluru, and adds, she has a soft spot for our city. “I genuinely think that the audience in Bengaluru is extraordinarily clued into theatre and the performing arts so much that it fascinates us. We, as a group feel that Bengaluru is very embracing of the performing arts and welcoming of every form of art. They also come to watch not just as spectators but to engage with the very concept of the art, even if it is a dark subject”.



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