Medea: The Chorus Diaries, final entry by Director Julian Bond

I directed the recent production of Medea and asked Natalie J Romero, co-ordinator of the Greek Chorus Diaries if she would allow me to add my thoughts on the Greek Chorus. She agreed so here they are –


I began reading around the subject of Greek theatre (and all extant plays) 18 months ago. It quickly became clear to me that in the Chorus Greek theatre presented an immensely powerful method of connecting actors to audience. Springing out of religious and social kinship groups in pre-capitalist and matrilineal societies, they represented the power of human beings working in cohesion.


The chorus is utilised by the three big names of Greek Theatre; Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles (though I feel that Sophocles viewed it as something of an encumbrance that couldn’t be done away with due to convention). It is always significant commenting and at times colluding in the action, giving moral judgement (or misjudgement) on the characters as they deal with their dilemas.


The more I read and embroiled myself in the subject the more aghast I became as to how such a magnificent element to theatre has been almost entirely lost and forgotten. An interesting comment I saw on a theatre forum following our show at the Unity Theatre stated how much the person had loved our Greek Chorus and how she had never seen it before and wanted to see more of it!


In thinking about the whys and the wherefores it seems obvious to me that as theatre became the preserve of the bourgeoisie who if it is not too much of an oxymoron to say are and remain always a group of individualists that the culture and vision of society that their writers would promote from Elizabethan times onwards would be one that didn’t need the crowd, the masses, the ‘ordinary’ people so beloved of Euripides. It is instructive to look at Shakespeare’s comedies and see the peasantry shown as oafish, cunning, stupid, incapable of sophisticated thought see ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.


And so it goes on into modern theatre with the vogue for absurdist and individualist representations of reality disassociated from any meaningful political and social context. And theatre is always a social medium in a way that TV cannot be other than indirectly.


As we ran workshops on Greek theatre in the Autumn of last year we quickly became enamoured with the Chorus seeing its power and its magic released. It was also interesting that a fair few of the actresses who auditioned for parts in Medea initially for main characters quickly decided that their preference was to be in the Chorus.


And so to our Greek Chorus- well the first thing to say is I’m immensely proud of them all. Mairi Kennedy, Maria Hutchison, Natalie Romero, Vicky Lodge, Helen Shrimpton, Bex Culshaw, Faye Caddick and Sam Walton. We were blessed at the auditions by so many intelligent and sound actresses turning up as the work of the Chorus it’s synchronisation, working together on movement and sound is no easy matter. I was ably assisted in directing the Chorus by Faye Caddick who had a far better memory than me and saved the day on a few occasions and also Sam Walton as the Chorus Leader drove everybody on and ratcheted up the intensity. The eight chorus members all seemed to get along well and kept egos to a minimum and after a while I left them to work things out for themselves. They came up with a fair few of the choral pieces without any influence from me including the most dynamic entry to a play you could wish for ‘the tree of life’ – startlingly dramatic with Sam leading from the front as always.


We played around with the lines moving them around the chorus, breaking them up, repeating them, doing call and responses which again largely worked.


So at the end of this process I am happy to have created a template, trialed it successfully. Is the chorus relevant to 21st century theatre – 100% yes and anyone who disdains such a view or is too lazy to deal with the demands of the chorus doesn’t deserve much artistic respect. I hope it informs future work that I undertake, I see no reason to merely slavishly ape the conventions of Greek Theatre created millennia ago – rather I contemplated a dialectic between the chorus and individual characters who at times would be in the chorus and at other times would come out and speak as individual characters before returning undistinguishable back in to the chorus so on and so forth.


So from the most politically and socially progressive theatre (unsurprising given that the Athenians had moved already into a (partial) direct participatory form of governance as opposed to the fraudulent representative democracy that we’ve been ‘gifted’ with) of any period we have a tremendous asset, one that should be taken out of the box in the attic, dusted down and put to work. The returns it will bring are most valuable!

Medea: The Chorus Diaries Entry No. 9 by Mikyla Jane Durkan

A Brief Encounter – I Am Chorus 

By Mikyla Jane Durkan

Click for spoken poem


From far flung exotic lands they came

And drifted into shore

Crosby, Southport , Wirral too

As well as many more

As they met they gathered strength

A groaning greedy beast

Their lilting heads and 16 eyes

Reached out and lunged increased

It grew in strength

with every week

Challenged the strong and

Trampled the meek

And all the while this Unity bloomed

An ever moving flower

A watchable swaying monster with

A strange hypnotic power.

I , an outsider once but now drawn in

My fate post St Luke’s Eve will be banishment to the bin

The cast

Cast aside

But for now…..

I am Chorus

Medea receives a four star review for St Lukes performance! By Natalie J. Romero

The cast and crew are incredibly excited to share Ian D. Hall’s review of our Saturday matinee performance of Medea at St Luke’s Church on Liverpool city centre, better known as The Bombed Out Church.

The day started off sunny and bright, which was the best blessing any one of us could have hoped for, on the day of an outdoor performance! It’s seems Zeus was smiling on us!

After making the short trip down the hill from our head quarters at the Casa on Hope St to our venue, probably looking even more comical than we realised, in full ancient Greek stage dress, we arrived to a packed out space, full of curious audience members, eager for a unique Burjesta show.

Friends and family dotted the pews amidst a sea of unknown theatre enthusiasts who seemed (much to our liking) to be thoroughly absorbed in the two hours traffic of our stage.

Mairi Claire Kennedy stunned as Medea, having switched roles with Mikyla Jane Durkan who took her place in the chorus for the afternoon.

Back in her original casting by the evening performance, Mikyla swayed the audience as the moon conducts the sea, bringing people from swelling laughter to free flowing tears.

All of the cast where highly commended both in review and by audience members who sought to congratulate them personally after the show.

Special mentions go to Callum and Gary, who play Medea’s son’s exquisitely every time, and who never complained once about the chill in the spring air and delivered another excellent performance.

Speaking on behalf of Burjesta, I can say I am very honoured that our rendition of Medea has come to be enjoyed by so many great audiences, and has been considered “a pinnacle” of achievement. We are very proud and thankyou for all your support.

Read Ian’s review for Liverpool Sound and Vision here:

Medea: The Chorus Diaries, Entry No. 8 by Mairi Claire Kennedy

It has been an amazing journey being part if this project and I truly have created memories that will stay with me forever and always make me smile.

The last week has been especially exciting for me as part of the Chorus as I have also had my chance to do a performance as the part of Medea after taking on the responsibility of understudy.

It speaks extremely highly of Mikyla’s character that not due to illness or unforeseen circumstances did we switch roles- myself playing Medea and Mikyla taking my place in the chorus- but because of Mikyla’s sheer generosity and warm heartedness.

Playing Medea has been an incredible roller coaster from start to finish. Whilst this part is, with good reason, important to every female actor and I’m sure a dream role for most (certainly me), it consumes an intense level of focus and demands long hours of investigating impossibly complex, dark emotions and subjects.

That said, once it reaches performance, if you have done your hard work you can let yourself go and nothing beats the high…

So, matinee over, we were on to the evening performance: I was back with my chorus and the mood was amazing in the Bombed Out Church.

Over the last 4 months all 8 members of the chorus have have had an intense rehearsal shedule! Starting our first few rehearsals with (as I’m sure it’s been previously mentioned) highly awkward body invading space exercises and yes there was touching (all above board… nothing funny). From then on in (although I say it myself) we worked phenomenally well as a team and it is one I am damn proud to be part of.

I hadn’t rehearsed for the chorus since the Casa shows, doing only rehearsals as Medea. However, the chorus, Julian and I all had faith and it wasn’t misplaced. During the evening performance we worked once more as part of that team, seamlessly reacting to each others moods and movements, focusing constantly on the breathing around and within us to know when to speak and move in unison.

Not only has it been a pleasure to work with 7 accomplished and skilled women, I’ve made some seriously awesome mates..

And why else give 4 months of your life to Greek theatre? 😉

I’m so, so sad it’s almost at an end… but it’s not over yet…

Roll on the Unity show this Saturday! 😀

Medea: The Chorus Diaries Entry No. 7 by Natalie J Romero

You may have noticed that this entry is a little over due; I actually realised last night that it couldn’t come at a better time. Medea is moving! Our next performance s will take place at St Luke’s Church, better known as the bombed out church, in Liverpool city centre, at the top of bd st. This has gotten us chorus almost too excited for words. It was our first rehearsal is this historic and atmospheric space yesterday evening where some amazing sights where ours to behold.

The artist in me was actually so excited that it couldn’t be contained and had to steal a moment to capture a proper live action virtual tour of the location:

Click for Video Tour

But this, by far, surpasses the level of excitement that any single member of the chorus could muster on their own:

Click for Choral Emphaticness

There only  seemed to be one person taking the entire experience in so calmly, he appeared to be asleep, as you may have noticed in that little film…

You will notice that this week, the Chorus includes our very own Mikyla Durkan! And that Mairi Claire Kennedy is strangely absent… This is because as Mikyla’s understudy, Mairi has been studying up on the role of Medea and will be making her debut as the vengeful queen at the matinee performance at St Lukes, this Staturday. We couldn’t be happier that talented Mairi is making this jump onto centre stage, and in such an iconic setting; and of course Mikyla is such an awesome chorus member.

The entire experience of rehearsing at St Luke’s was quite surreal, and I’m sure performing for a live audience this weekend will be even more so. There is the sense running right through it that nature is slowly reclaiming it. Despite it’s dramatic and sometimes violent history, the inside ambience is one of calm. Though one eerie feature we all couldn’t help but notice was the wind that gets trapped inside it’s derelict walls and echoes like thunder run away from it’s storm.

Please join us this weekend! Medea at the Bombed Out Church at 2pm and 7pm Saturday 18th April!