When Euripides wrote the classic Greek tragedy "Medea" about 2,500 years ago, he certainly didn't include dance routines, elaborate costumes, experimental choral interludes or visually stunning multimedia installations.
But that's exactly how local director Kevin Gavin decided to present the ancient text in his unique production of the play, which opens Aug. 16 at Muse Arts Warehouse.
"All of these things provide an extra layer of meaning," Gavin said, adding that the original play didn't even have stage directions. "It can be difficult for modern audiences to access traditional texts, and these elements give them another way of processing what has transpired."
Gavin said the idea of combining a traditional text with modern art forms was a concept he and lead actress Anna Burrell (Medea) had been discussing for quite some time. But it wasn't until recently that all the pieces of the puzzle aligned.
"I wanted it to be something that no one had ever heard before," Gavin said specifically of the original music produced by Lucia Garcia and Matt Duplessie, members of a local electro-pop band Electric Grandma. "And they did just that. It's incredible."
But the soundtrack isn't the only thing that was specially created by local artists in collaboration of the production of the play that Gavin calls "a story of revenge with a very primal emotional pull."
Savannah Arts Academy sophomore Sophia Morekis designed the dance routines, and SCAD student Lubomir Kocka, who received a Student Academy Award in 2010 for his film "The Lunch Box," created the video installations that run throughout the play.
IF YOU GO
What: "Medea" presented by 4th World Theater
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 16, 17, 23, 24; 2 p.m. Aug. 18.
Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703 Louisville Road, Savannah
Cost: $10, $5 for students
"They are all things I think the audience will find intriguing as they sit and watch," Gavin said.
A veteran of local community theater and a Latin teacher at Savannah Country Day School for more than 20 years, Gavin said finding just the right combination of people who understood and believed in his out-of-the-box vision was crucial to the success of the project.
"I have been very fortunate that I found a combination of experienced people, like veteran Jim Morekis (Jason), and youthful people who had a lot of great ideas," Gavin said. The other lead actors include J.R. Roberts (Creon) and Adam Bailey (Aegeus).
So with all these different art forms, both old and new, coming together to help audiences interpret the story, what themes does Gavin hope to convey? What connections to modern society does he want people to see?
"Although it's the story of Medea seeking revenge on her unfaithful husband, it has a hidden, cryptic political connection that I find really interesting and relevant. The play was actually performed on the eve of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta," Gavin said. "And in a way, Medea represents the passion and rage that is rising. She represents the corrective madness of war."
Gavin said these wartime themes are subtle in both the original text and his production, but he hopes the audience will come away with some sense of the underlying tensions that he says are very pertinent to today's cultural and political discourse.