The Jordan High School auditorium was the site of a world premiere Saturday, Jan. 18 as a cast of students performed “The Tale of Medusa,” a play written and directed by JHS senior Kivi Weeks.
“We’re just really proud of her,” said Cathy Weeks, Kivi’s mother. “My husband and I have been taking her to the Guthrie (Theater) to see Shakespeare productions since she was 12.”
The play is a retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Medusa. The one-act play takes place after Medusa is killed by Perseus and centers on the fallout between Medusa’s sisters and her teacher, Athena. The show, however, was written by Kivi Weeks to portray the classical characters in a different light.
“The myth of Medusa and Perseus always seemed kind of one-sided to me,” Kivi Weeks said. “It’s always about how Perseus takes down this great evil, but in the actual myth Medusa seems more like a victim to me. She was turned into a monster for something that really wasn’t her fault and it always seemed wrong to me to focus on Perseus in a story where it seemed like she should be the one getting the revenge.”
Kivi was brought up on Greek mythology by her mother, starting with a children’s book that told child-friendly versions of the ancient myths. Weeks’ parents also enrolled her in playwrighting classes and a directing camp at Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater in recent years. Weeks decided it was time to take the next step this year and asked JHS English teacher and theater director Tony Rydberg if she could direct a one-act play.
“He (Rydberg) said ‘we’ll see what we can do,’ so I started looking for plays without royalties, then he said I should just write one,” Kivi Weeks said.
Weeks wrote the play during the fall and shared drafts with English teacher Michelle Spies, who would go on to be supervising director of the play. Spies said she gave Weeks control over the tryouts and room to stretch her directorial legs. But actually directing a cast of student actors is far different than learning about it at camp, Weeks said.
“It’s more difficult in real life. I’ve always been kind of weird about communication, so this really has helped honed my ability to put what’s inside my head into words,” Weeks said. “It’s hard to direct someone to ‘sit over there and look sad’ when they don’t know what sort of ‘sitting’ and what sort of ‘sadness’ you want them to embody.”
But when the curtain was finally drawn on Saturday night, Weeks found she was “incredibly satisfied” with the production.
“This is the first time people have seen my work outside of my family and friends and it’s been very satisfying to see that happen,” Kivi Weeks said. “It gives me hope that I have a future in these things.”
Weeks has been accepted to Hamline University in St. Paul, where she plans to study creative writing and biology next fall.