The 10 Selected Productions
by Leonie Böhm
Premiere 19 September 2020
At Schauspielhaus Zürich, Leonie Böhm continues her development of a poetics of the fragile and explores the ancient myth of Medea with powerful images and delicate gestures.
- 1 h 15 min
- In German with English subtitles
- Thursday, 20 May 2021
- Live stream from Schauspielhaus Zürich
Medea: In the ancient Euripedean myth, she is the princess whose husband Jason leaves her for another woman and who takes revenge by murdering their children. Director Leonie Böhm uses the tragedy as a springboard for a radical theatre experiment. Her Medea* is unconditionally a woman of today, refusing to embody an ancient tragic fate. Although she would prefer to carefully look at and explore this fate from the outside, she cannot escape it in the end. Maja Beckmann is moving as a defiant Medea-explorer and musician Johannes Rieder provides a melancholy and jarring soundtrack.
Theatertreffen-juror Andreas Klaeui about the production
Jason enticed Medea away from her home and then jilted her to build a solid middle-class life for himself. That is the initial situation: Medea’s social existence has been obliterated, she is at a dead end, alone and with no support at all. In her staging – essentially a monologue – Leonie Böhm highlights this particular facet.
Social ties have been severed, there is no firm ground beneath one’s feet (only the floating white cloths of Zahava Rodrigo’s set design) and the destructive and self-destructive actions have already set their inescapable momentum in motion. Leonie Böhm and actor Maja Beckmann show a woman in free fall. In this sense, the production is not particularly interested in elaborating on the horrendous deeds at the end of the play – the murder of Glauce, Jason’s new love interest, or the murder of Medea’s children. Instead, it chooses to focus on the development that precedes her act. The self-empowerment that is inherent to it. The new scope for growth it might create. This Medea* from Zurich (the gender asterisk raises it above all binary positioning) is one who has read Christa Wolf and who is at least familiar with Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan and Walter Benjamin. Even if the text that she speaks is mainly by Euripides, apart from a few improvised lines, in a new translation by Herbert Meier. A Medea, too, who mirrors the passage à l’acte with the audience in the performer’s first entrance situation. This is comparatively harmless, of course, but it manages to substantiate one point of conflict. This is a Medea of vivid images: for example, when she describes her exile situation as one where her keys are the only ones that no longer fit any door. All locks have been changed and she never knew that it was happening. The ways in which Maja Beckmann develops her performance, Leonie Böhm arranges images, Johannes Rieder reflects the events on stage in music, are breathtaking and intelligent. It is an attempt to not reject terror as an inhuman monstrosity but to think it and thus make the human monster intelligible.