Debutante director Ira Khan brings Euripides' Medea to Bengaluru

Debutante director Ira Khan’s version of Medea promises to entertain but also make you uncomfortable

Ayesha Tabassum Published :  20th December 2019 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  20th December 2019 12:00 AM

A scene from the rehearsal of the play

The year was 431 BC when Euripides’ Medea, based on the myth of Jason and Medea, was first staged at the City Dionysia Festival at Athens. Since then, it has been perfor med numerous times through different periods, across the globe. This weekend, the play comes to Bengaluru. Directed by debutante Ira Khan, it features actor Hazel Keech in the title role.

Sticking to the classic
Medea is a tragedy that is timeless. The theme of the play — an unfaithful husband and a wife who is out to avenge — resonates with the audience to this day. However, this isn’t the only reason for Ira to have chosen this drama. “I read it in my high school and then I had to read it again in college as I was studying ancient Greek literature. It is still a relevant play although it was written 2,500 years ago. I picked this play because it has an undertone and a thought which I found really interesting. It’s dramatic, has interesting characters who deal with dilemmas,” explains Ira.

The play opened in Mumbai earlier in December at the Prithvi Theatre and has had eight shows so far. It is the story of Medea, who kills her husband Jason, his mistress and her own children in order to completely erase any trace of him.

Ira Khan

New learning
This is an intense story and script to debut with, however, the 22-year-old director thinks otherwise. She says she has evolved with every reading and that’s what is reflected in her treatment of the script, “Every time I read the play, I changed my mind because this is the kind of story that makes you take sides unintentionally. Different dialogues stood out, and every time, it made me change my mind about the characters. But I am definitely not picking a side in my version.”

Although it’s an ancient Greek drama, Ira says she didn’t want her characters wearing togas. Instead, she has costumes that are functional. “They are neither period costumes, nor are they contemporary. I would say they are somewhere in the middle,” she says. A translucent screen right in the middle is crucial to the minimalist set. But unlike the play that was staged back in 431 BC that didn’t include the murder scenes, Ira hasn’t shied away from depicting them in her version. “It’s a very dramatic play, there’s a lot happening. In ancient Greece, you were not allowed to show any violence on stage, so all such scenes happened backstage. I have changed some of those scenes, but I haven’t changed any lines,” she reveals.

A dark play that is visually appealing is how she describes her version of Medea. “I do hope it makes people fairly uncomfortable because it’s not a happy play. There’s enough entertainment value in it and is also thought provoking,” concludes Ira, who is the daughter of actor Aamir Khan and Reena Dutta.

Rs 300. December 22, 3.30 and 7.30 pm. At Ranga Shankara