Greek tragedy comes to life in staged reading

ENCINITAS — The Intrepid Shakespeare Company will present a staged reading of “Medea,” by Euripides beginning at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 with a wine and cheese reception. The event will take place in the community room of the Encinitas Library located at 540 Cornish Drive.
The Greek tragedy, originally performed in 431 B.C., deals with the revenge a wife inflicts upon her husband after learning he has betrayed her with another woman.
The translation is by Marianne McDonald, professor of theater and classics in the Department of Theatre at UCSD. McDonald is also a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and a recipient of several awards including Greece’s Order of the Phoenix.
“The interesting thing I find about ‘Medea’ is that unlike other Greek tragedies that may be hard to understand, ‘Medea’ is more relatable because it is about family,” said Sean Cox, artistic director and co-founder of the theater company. “Marianne’s adaption is very accessible.”
Cox explained that audience members usually prefer staged readings because they are similar to final rehearsals where actors make their entrances and exits from backstage. In addition, actors will be dressed in modern clothes in order to make the reading contemporary.
Linda Libby, who stars as “Medea,” will be joined by regular members of the company including Tom Hall, Eddie Yaroch, Savvy Scopelleti and Wendy Waddell. Cox is the director.
“We get some of the best talent in San Diego to participate in these readings,” he said.
This is the sixth reading since Cox and Christy Yael, who serves as CEO and producing artistic director, founded the company in 2009.
“So far we have had nothing but full houses,” Cox said. “It’s very encouraging that so many people would come out on a Monday night for a reading of a play.”
Cox and Yael met in 2008 while performing “Three Days of Rain” in San Diego.
“We were both fans of Shakespeare and were frustrated that you almost have to leave town to do his plays,” Cox said. “We talked about starting a group in San Diego that focuses on Shakespeare as well as main stage and production.”
Ideally, Cox and Yael wanted to fill a niche for live theater in their hometown of Encinitas, but they were unable to find a venue. Consequently, their first theater season was held in San Diego.
In the fall of 2010, they co-produced Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” with the Encinitas-based Moxie Theatre.
“Delicia Sonnenberg, Moxie’s founder and artistic director, recommended getting in touch with Jim Gilliam, arts administer, city of Encinitas,” Cox explained.
Gilliam was receptive and suggested they talk to then-Mayor Don Dalager who, in turn, referred them to Mike Grove, principal at San Dieguito Academy.
“It made sense to be connected to the high school,” Cox said. “We looked at the theater at SDA and liked it because it was intimate.”
All parties realized it was a win-win-win: Intrepid was able to establish itself in Encinitas, the city of Encinitas acquired their first live theater, and students at the SDA got an internship program working with professional artists.
“The internship program was a huge success,” Cox said. “I was a big theater guy in high school and would have given anything to have a professional company on campus to learn lighting, set design, sound, stage management, production and acting.”
Since its inception three years ago, the company is already garnering awards.
In 2010, it was nominated by the San Diego Critics Circle in the categories of “Production” and “Acting” for “The Crucible.”
In addition, two SDA students won a 2010 National Youth Award in the category “Youth Performances in Professional Production.” Austin Myers won for “King John” in spring 2010, and Benjamin Schaffer for “Romeo and Juliet” in the fall 2010.
Cox and Yael said they put a lot of thought in naming their Shakespearean company, “Intrepid.”
“We talked about core values at the beginning,” Yael explained. “Language is a powerful tool and medium, so it is the language, not the sets and music, that make the difference.”
Tickets for the staged reading of “Medea,” by Euripides are priced between $10 and $25. For more information visit IntrepidShakespeare.com.

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