[notes from kym moore, director of yermedea; she’s presenting the play to the student panel at brown that picks plays for our season…]
Yermedea explores the disturbing social and psychological effect on life lived in the midst of genocide. The composite character alluded to in the title is loosely based on Federico Garcia Lorcas Yerma and Euripides Medea. The women in the play contemplate the unthinkable moral question of matricide as an alternative to seeing their children brutally murdered, raped, or otherwise destroyed by the ravages of war.
Yermedea specifically references the war in El Salvador.
However, our research revealed that the devastation of indigenous cultures in Central and South America begins much earlier in Potosi, a mining town founded in Boliva 1546. The colonial project devastated the region of its richest natural resources that included the mental, spiritual and psychological life of the community. The silver mined in the hills outside the city made the Spanish and other Europeans exceptionally wealthy and left the indigenous people in ruin. The legendary city was known around the world as a land of riches. Once the land was stripped of all its resources legend has it that spirits lurked in the hills. Indigenous people in the area came to revere, and even sanctify these ruins in myths and legends that survive to this day. These myths and legends would become an integral part of our creative process during first Yermedea workshop last spring. Our fascination led to the creation of a shadow puppet that represented the mysterious force of the mountain myths about Potosi. I will be going to Panama (the country not the beach city in FLA) in December to conduct research on folk performance and pre-Columbian art history, as well as the continuing impact of militaristic rule that has shaped the development of culture in the region. This summer Alejandra and I would also like to plan a trip to Bolivia to gain first hand knowledge of the area and its people. We believe these folk performance strategies will inform the visual metaphors we are weaving into the final piece. Erik talks about the hallucinatory world of Yermedea. Think of it another way. A woman wakes up goes to a bus stop to make her morning commute into the city presumably to work. The liminal space between those two locations reveals the deep psychological, social, and spiritual damage incurred as an after effect of living with war. The disjuncture in the text mirrors or better yet expresses what cannot be expressed in real life. In this regard the piece serves as a gateway into this unimaginable (for us) experience. And I would add that it does so in a way that realism cant because the images, the poetic nature of the language and events in the play cannot be rationalized, they are felt, experienced, on a very personal/subjective level that impacts the viewer in ways that cannot be explained and yet resonate deeply with our own primordial instinct to survive.
Okay, I hope this helps. Thanks for your patience and consideration.