Listen. This is a story that has to be told.
That was the opening line of the classic Greek tragedy, Medea, that my wife and I attended at Pepperdine over the weekend. If you are familiar with the play, it is a story that you probably wish had never been told. But we continue to show up for resurrections of Euripides’ terrible tale century after century—so maybe it is true that the story is unavoidable.
I try to attend anything produced by the Fine Arts Division Theatre Program at Pepperdine because every production is always fantastic, and given that our friend, Brad, was the director of and that our friend, Lincoln, composed original electronic music for this particular performance, we marked our calendars for Medea months ago. But wow, what a heart-wrenching story.
I remember the name, Euripides, from some high school textbook mostly because I thought it sounded funny. (“Euripides pants and you’re in big trouble, mister!”) But wow, how unhinged must this classic playwright have been to write such a horrible tale of cold-blooded, unthinkable revenge? What demented mind could imagine Medea, the character?
Obviously the mind of one of the more important playwrights in world history.
Maybe there was method to such madness. Maybe Euripides wrote such a messed-up story to shine a light in the ugliest places of our world so that we might sheepishly walk out of a dark theater committed to building a world that is brighter?
I read that Euripides is known as someone whose work sympathized with society’s outcasts. In Medea we encounter someone so powerless that she resorts to maniacal actions to scream at a world in which she had heretofore been silenced. It is only through unimaginable actions that she is heard.
But I hope we do more than hear her screams. I hope that we listen. I hope that we listen because this is a story that has to be told. If not, we may find ourselves destroyed by the last resorts of the voiceless should their predictable actions not be prevented by the only safeguard remaining — the goodness of their own hearts.