On February 11th,  the entire Upper School and the 8th grade saw the critically-acclaimed one-woman show, Butoh Medea, at the St. Jean’s Theater. Butoh Medea is a creative mix between the Greek tragedy, Medeaand Butoh, which is a style of Japanese modern dance that shows emotions through interpretive movements. Yokko plays Medea and Brian Rhinehart is the director.

Yokko, as Medea in Butoh Medea Credit: http://www.butohmedea.com/
Yokko, as Medea in Butoh Medea
Credit: http://www.butohmedea.com/

Medea is about a woman who is betrayed by her husband, Jason, and seeks revenge by killing her husband’s new wife and her own children. She tells us her backstory about how she met Jason, and, after immediately falling in love with him, she sacrificed everything she had so they could be together in peace. She used her powers to kill her own family members in order to save Jason and live the rest of their lives together. However, after Medea has many children and grows older, Jason falls in love with a younger woman and leaves Medea for her. Medea is left with her children who remind her of Jason and his betrayal. Medea slowly becomes insane and thirsty for revenge. She eventually kills all the people her ex-husband loved to get back at him.

Before entering the theater, Ms. Britt, Middle School and Upper School drama teacher, quickly gave an overview of the story of Medea and the difference between the Greek myth and Butoh Medea. After hearing the plot, many students were apprehensive and slightly scared about going to see the play because of the intensity. As most of us expected, the play was dramatic. Yokko employed dark red stage lights, facial expressions, and tore her costume apart. Yokko channeled her emotions through dancing and moving her body. She was very flexible and moved around in ways one wouldn’t expect. She was able to express her internal feelings externally.

One student said, “I thought it was really impressive that this one woman was able to portray such a moving story, without any other actors or props to help her.” Many students felt it was done beautifully and acknowledged the amount of skill and talent it would have taken to perform such a dramatic story through dance and with just one woman on stage the whole time. Yokko used nothing to aid her telling this story other than dramatic lighting and her words.

However, some students thought that they might not have been the best audience for such an intense show, especially not having studied the story of Medea in advance. “I thought it was really cool and unique, because it wasn’t like anything I’ve heard of or seen before, but at times it was a lot to handle, especially when she started to kill her own children,” said McKenzie F.’18.

After the play, the actress and lighting designer had a short question and answer with the audience, and we learned how she channeled her character and showed her emotions through the lighting, dancing, and even her breathing and relaxation methods. Yokko opened up about her experiences in doing the play around the world and many of her techniques in expressing her emotions on stage, and moving from being her character to being herself.

Overall, Yokko’s spin on the play was unique,  and students were exposed to a  different way of telling a famous and classic story with just one woman on stage.

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