A classic retold
E.L. Karhu’s new play Eriopis is a freewheeling retelling of Euripides’ Medea. Its world premiere production at Schauspiel Leipzig was chosen as one of the theatre highlights of the year across Europe’s German-speaking countries.
In Eriopis, the daughter of two famous parents steps into the limelight to tell her story following a life of anonymity. Eriopis, the left-over child, has avoided the gruesome fate of her brothers at the hands of their mother, Medea. E.L. Karhu’s new play is a freewheeling retelling of Euripides’ Medea and gives voice to the daughter of a formidably powerful mother.
“It tells the story of Eriopis, Medea’s daughter who survived, and it’s about empathy and exploitation in the tabloid and true crime media,” the playwright explains.
Eriopis. Medea’s daughter survivor tells all was commissioned by Schauspiel Leipzig where it received its world premiere on 6 March 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic forced theatres around the world to close. Theatre critic Harald Raab was impressed by what he saw:
“If theatre wants act as our collective social imagination, it must think and act with the energy and creativity we have witnessed in this unique production”. Raab goes on to say that there is nothing stopping playwrights from reimagining classics as long as it’s done to the standard achieved by “the writer, E.L. Karhu, and director Anna-Sophie Mahler in this extraordinary production”.
Nachtkritik went on to include Eriopis in its Top 40 list of new plays in Germany, Switzerland and Austria for 2020.
E.L. Karhu wrote the play in unique collaboration with translator Stefan Moster. Moster was invited to translate several early versions of the play, which were read and commented on by theatre agents Rowohlt Theaterverlag and the dramaturgy team at Schauspiel Leipzig. The final German translation is also the work of Stefan Moster, who has an extensive background in translating Finnish prose and drama. The play was also subsequently translated into English by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah.
In the foreword to the Finnish print edition, theatre critic Maria Säkö writes: “As we’re used to seeing from E.L. Karhu, her latest play both embraces and confronts the canon, the act of storytelling and tradition itself. Eriopis. Medea’s daughter survivor tells all dislocates them while also celebrating them as our collective memory, which all of us have a role in rewriting.”
E.L. Karhu’s Princess Hamlet (translated by Stefan Moster) was also performed at Schauspiel Leipzig and her Breadline Ballad has been performed in Germany, France and Canada. Princess Hamlet will again appear on the German stage at Theater Rampe in Stuttgart as a five-part dramatic short film series starting on 25 March 2021.
TINFO / 10.3.2021