Tri-State Theater

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Monday, August 24, 2015

An Interview With "Medea" Actor John Campbell

   The cast of Medea may be mostly female, but there are some males who play key roles, including one of the few to offer help to the title character.

   You have two more chances to catch the show next weekend at the Renaissance Theatre in Huntington.

   For today's interview, let's hear from the talented John Campbell:

Q: For those not familiar with the show, tell us about Medea.

John: It's Greek. It's a tragedy. Lots of death and suffering. Much like a teledrama, but snappier.

Q: How does the show relate to modern-day audiences

John: People are people, whether they lived in ancient Greece or live in Huntington today. We are all too often arrogant and self-centered, and willing to hurt others to get what we want, so we can understand the heroic but flawed Jason. Probably all of us have been on the receiving end of such treatment at some point, and so we can relate to the rejected woman Medea. Plotting revenge vicariously has its dark gratification, though I hope we won't go so far as to commit murder.

Q: Tell us about the character(s) you play.

John: I play Aegeus, King of Athens, who is the only male to treat Medea as an equal. In fact, when given the opportunity he asks for her advice, since she is “the wise one.” Aegeus offers her protection in exile, though without knowing the catastrophic nature of her plans.

Q: Has it been fun, working with an (almost) all-female cast?

John: Yes, but not so much because of gender; rather, because these are good souls and talented individuals.

Q: What's your background in theatre?

John: After some roles in high school and college, I took a long break from the stage. When my own children wanted to try out for community theatre in central Kentucky, I went with them, and we did summer musicals together. Two of our three children remain active in theatre as young adults, and here I am too, still treading the boards. At ARTS I appeared in The Pirates of Penzance as Major General Stanley (“the very model of a modern major general”), and was Music Director for Crazy for You last year.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

John: I had never been part of a Greek drama, and it is a form of theatre that is both profound in content and distinct in design. Modern playwrights still use the Greek chorus, but not the way the Greeks did. And we continue to explore themes of the human psyche (there's a good Greek word!) that they tackled back then. I wanted to give it a try and see what it was like from the inside. I had also heard good things about director Leah Turley, and welcomed the opportunity to work under her direction for the first time. I'm glad I did.

Q: Why would you recommend this show?

John: It is an emotional workout, for audience as well as actors, and in that hard work of wrestling with the darker sides of our own character, there can be a cleansing, a catharsis (another Greek word!). On the technical side it is a first-rate production, with stylizations that capture the spirit of the original text, though we will deliver the play in English. The set, lighting and costumes are very interesting, both in their look and in their starkness. The ensemble is very strong, as it has to be to pull off choral recitation that nevertheless conveys emotion and passion. Individual actors across the board are giving strong, emotional, powerful performances. Joanna Berner Murdock as Medea presents a compelling tragic figure; her voice alone is worth the ticket price.
   It is a dark piece. Casual attenders of live theatre in the area may find themselves stretched a bit by Medea. I suspect the ancient Greeks would think that was a good thing. Hard-core theatre people owe it to themselves to take advantage of this offering of a classic play such as rarely happens here. The ARTS fan base knows to expect the unexpected, and Medea will deliver once again. Don't miss it! 

   Thanks, John!

  Medea is being presented by Arts Resources for the Tri-State (ARTS). The classic play will be staged on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. on the ARTS Renaissance Main Stage at 900 8th Street in Huntington. Tickets are $15 for the show only, or $30 for dinner and the show. Reservations are required for the dinner - call 304-733-2787. 

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