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Ancient mythology embarks on an immersive adventure: MEDUSA

Feet First Collective invites you to be a patron of The Temple and meet its star Medusa!

For four nights only the Main Hall of The Rechabite will transform to host the Goddess Athena’s new-age temple (a club), becoming the perfect setting for the ancient myth of Medusa to unfold. This upcoming show will utilise the company’s signature immersive style, enabling audiences to explore the space and interact with the performance at their own level of comfortability.

The striking image of Medusa, the woman with venomous snakes for hair, has always been a point of fascination for the show’s Producer and Director Teresa Izzard and is now the impetus for her latest work. Teresa’s interpretation of the tale will highlight its contemporary relevance, exploring the ever-present issues of sexual assault, the patriarchy and the pursuit of justice. To learn more about Teresa’s vision and direction for MEDUSA, Magazine 6000 sent her some questions ahead of opening night on August 3rd.

While Medusa is often described and perceived as a monster, several versions of the myth reveal her to be a misunderstood character who misplaced her trust and was ultimately punished for actions beyond her control. What can you tell us about your interpretation of the myth and how Medusa will be portrayed?

As we delved into the myth, we discovered the same, that there are many different versions. The stories around how she became a monster centre around the fact that she and Poseidon had sex in Athena’s temple, which was against the rules and ‘desecrated’ the temple. However, many of the stories suggest that Poseidon raped her rather than it being consensual. When she went to Athena, the stories suggest that Athena supported her fellow god and placed the curse on Medusa as a punishment, although some accounts state that it was for her protection. We have created a contemporary version that places Medusa’s account at the centre.

As the Director what processes have you gone through to develop this work and how has it manifested?

This is an original work that has been in development since 2020. We have used a plethora of devising and writing processes, including company training in viewpoints and Laban / developmental movement. In 2021, we were the artists in residence at Fremantle Arts Centre and our residency culminated in a showing, which we used to test out our concept. Since then, we have expanded the story and vision to fit the new venue, The Rechabite. We also have had writers and dramaturgs work with us to help solidify the script.

Were there any surprising developments or interesting discoveries made as the work evolved?

I think the thing that we all found interesting, and possibly chilling, was the fact that after we had started working on this piece the Brittany Higgins story broke, and others have followed. In the time we have been devising there has been a rise in awareness of this issue as well as a rise in the statistics. This has kept us going when things have been challenging as we feel that the work will make an important contribution to the conversation.

Poseidon, Perseus and Athena. Photography John Congear.

You’re taking an immersive approach to this work, which is something that other Feet First Collective productions are known for. What does an immersive work look and feel like, and what level of involvement can audiences expect?

The big difference is that there is no 4th wall in this production. The audience is invited to get into role as a patron of The Temple, dress to impress and join us for a night out. Whilst here at Feet First we believe that participation needs to be voluntary, there are opportunities to get involved and be more active than in a traditional performance.

How do immersive works enhance an audience’s experience of a show?

The goal of this work is to immerse the audience by transporting them to another world. Rather than sitting and passively looking at a set and cast, they are all around you and you can move around the performance venue. The idea is that the experience is all-encompassing and activates your sensorial world in multiple ways. The first half has a choose your own adventure feel to it which we hope people will enjoy as well as being engaged with the telling of the myths as they unfold.

Are there any challenges in your role as both Producer and Director when approaching immersive works such as this? 

There are a lot of challenges. Devising is an ever-changing landscape that demands a lot of skill to keep the process moving forward. I’m lucky to have a company of passionate and committed artists who all believe in what we’re doing. There are additional things that have to be taken into consideration when rehearsing immersive theatre, such as audience interaction and crowd control. Putting on a large scale work like this isn’t inexpensive either, so we’ve had to fundraise along the way as well as spend a lot of time applying for funding. Whilst we have had some success, there just isn’t enough funding for the arts at the moment, so that remains a challenge.

What are you most excited for audiences to experience when they see MEDUSA? What do you predict will speak to audiences the most within this production? 

I’m most excited to see how people react to the immersive aspects of the show, as well as what strikes them from the content. We hope that our interpretation of the myths will start conversations. We will have feedback cards at the end of shows, like we did for our other immersive shows, so I’m excited to read them and get those immediate responses. We’ve been working on this show for a long time and are all hungry to share the work and see what resonates and what doesn’t.

You can see MEDUSA presented by Feet First Collective at The Rechabite from August 3-6.