Uprooting Medea tour comes to campus

Dora Kreitzer, Assistant News Editor

On March 29-30, Khameleon Productions will be coming to campus as part of their “Uprooting Medea tour,” which focuses on their interpretation of Euripides’ Greek tragedy “Medea” and includes events such as class visits, script workshops and roundtable discussions. This event is coordinated through Assistant Professor of Critical Black Studies Dr. Jaye Austin Williams and Professor of Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies Dr. Stephanie Larson. 

“Medea” is a tragic play surrounding the protagonist Medea, who has to find the strength within herself to fight inequality after escaping her homeland and being abandoned by her husband, threatening her position in Greek society. Khameleon’s interpretation features an all-global majority cast and crew, as well as original compositions, movement and spoken word commissioned by the company. This new “Medea” examines the pertinent topics of race, belonging, identity, home and foreignness by centering these themes, which were present in the original.

“There is an incredible legacy of communities, especially minority communities, using “Medea” to speak to questions of belonging, identity, and immigration… However, what marks our production as so different was Francesca Amewudah-Rivers’ (the person who thought this all up back at Oxford) idea – to replace the Euripidean choral odes with newly commissioned spoken word pieces and poetry that speak directly to our communities, that she then sets to her own new compositions,” Shivaike Shah, the Founder and Producer of Khameleon Productions, said. 

The “Uprooting Medea tour” events will introduce Khameleon’s new “Medea” project and discuss the development and adaptation of Khameleon’s work. The tour is co-sponsored by the Brown Arts Institute (BAI), curated and produced by their Visiting Artist Shivaike Shah and is part of Brown’s inaugural Interrogating the Classics Series. The events will also explore Khameleon’s creative practice of elevating global-majority artists through multimedia forms including theatre, film, music and poetry. 

“Diversity is a core part of what makes creativity great, and at Khameleon we know that, and centre that. This needs to be achieved through systemic changes in the industry of who is making the art – not just on stage, but behind the stage also. We believe narratives for BIPOC communities should come from and be built for and with those communities. We also believe it is our responsibility to create celebratory collaborative spaces that champion and platform young global-majority creatives,” Shah said.

The presentation will also give an insight into their upcoming short film project, directed by Riffy Ahmen and set for release on the film festival circuit in 2022. 

“The tour itself has been a powerful and joyful experience, and the best experiences are the ones where we are able to bring our work directly to students, workshopping our script and ideas with a broad range of young people who breathe insight and fresh thought into our work,” Shah said.

After their tour stops at 30 different colleges and universities across the country, Khameleon will return to Brown University to hold a virtual gathering for all of the participating schools. This will include appearances of special guests who will lead discussions, creating an intercollegiate exchange of experiences around the project, focused specifically on the performance history and legacy of “Medea,” as well as Classics more broadly. 

“We hope that students will learn about our work, our approach to antiquity, and the potential of sticking with the Arts and creativity upon graduation (I graduated just a couple of years ago in 2019). We believe our journey is one that is attainable for any young student that is willing to commit to their creativity and message, and we believe this visit will be an insight into how to do that,” Shah said.

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