NU-Q faculty and students to perform Greek tragedy at QOSM’s ‘Olympics – Past & Present’ Exhibition

Medea, directed by NU-Q associate professor and long-time acting teacher, premieres Thursday

Faculty and students from Northwestern University in Qatar will present this week the Greek tragedy Medea in cooperation with the Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum (QOSM) and The Youth Company. The play is part of the event program of QOSM’s exhibition Olympics – Past & Present.

NU-Q Dean and CEO Everette E. Dennis said the collaboration with the Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum “makes important connections between the university and local cultural institutions. To the extent that this connects a classic play with appreciation for theater and acting, all the better.”

For Dr. Christian Wacker, director of QOSM, the cooperation is a perfect match and explains that the “Modern Olympic Games would never have been possible without the discovery of ancient Olympia and the legacy of ancient Greek culture. The Greeks regarded competition as an integral part of their day-by-day lives and competed not only in sports, but also in philosophy and theater play. Therefore it seems to be more than logical to host the ancient drama Medea as part of the cultural program for the exhibition Olympics – Past & Present.”

The Greek classic play by Euripides, which will be performed on three consecutive nights, will premiere on April 11. It is directed by NU-Q associate professor Ann Woodworth, who has taught acting for 30 years at the university’s home campus in Evanston. She has worked professionally as an actress, director and teacher in the United States and abroad, including with La Compania Nacional in Caracas, Venezuela, and the British/American Drama Academy in Oxford, England.

Woodworth said that when she accepted QOSM’s invitation to direct a Greek tragedy in Doha, many people asked her, “Why I would take on such a monumental task? As some of the NU-Q students in my acting classes reminded me, it was an opportunity to create awareness for theater here in Qatar, something we all believed in. I then discovered other students, faculty, staff and Doha residents who were also enthusiastic.

“I chose Euripides’ Medea because my students had studied it, and the story still resonates today,” she continued, adding that “Greek tragedy puts focus not only on the bizarre and horrific actions of people, but also on why they would take it upon themselves to act in these ways.”

The play is based on the ancient story of Medea, a mother of two boys, whose husband, Jason, has abandoned her for another woman. Moved by fury, she plots the annihilation of all that Jason holds dear on his wedding day. The performance is part of a series of events surrounding QOSM’s exhibition, which displays the history of both the ancient and modern Olympic Games.

Public auditions were held for various roles in the play, and many students and faculty at NU-Q were selected for the various parts, including the lead role of Medea, which is played by Meriem Mesraoua, senior in the communication program at NU-Q with a minor in theater. She is also an aspiring Qatari actor and filmmaker. She participated in the Richard’s Rampage project with the Kevin Spacey Foundation, performing at the Foundation Launch Gala in New York, as well as in NU-Q’s Arab Awakenings in Doha and Chicago in 2012.

“I’ve been personally delighted to see the broad collaboration in this production between NU-Q faculty, staff, students and the larger Doha community—both professionals and amateurs,” added Dennis. “I am confident that the play will give the Qatari public a glimpse of the cultural tensions in ancient Greek society that are startlingly contemporary and relevant today.”

Aya Abu Issa, acting chief executive officer of The Youth Company, which supported the production, commented on the occasion: “We are always keen on backing pioneering and innovative initiatives in the country, especially those which engage talented youth. The Youth Company is honored to support the Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum and Northwestern University in Qatar to realize this project and ensure maximum participation of the young generation.”

On view until June 30, 2013 at ALRIWAQ DOHA exhibition space, the Olympics – Past & Present exhibition is the first to include around 1,200 original objects, which are sourced from QOSM’s collection in addition to ancient pieces from Greece, France, Germany and Italy. The ancient section of the exhibition, “Olympia: Myth – Cult – Games,” takes visitors on a journey through the history of ancient Olympia, while the modern part, “Olympics: Values – Competitions – Mega Events,” sheds a light on the rediscovery of Antiquity during the Renaissance, leading to the re-establishment of the Olympic Games. The exhibition showcases original films and images from all the Olympic Games and highlights the participation of Qatari athletes in these Games through a series of interviews with previous and current Qatari Olympians and Paralympians.