In brilliant ‘Children of Medea,’ a Korean American girl hopes to cope

The pressures of adolescence spark an explosion of imagination. The first Electric Impulses offering from Constellation.

Conformity can be difficult for some of us at the best of times. But it is especially difficult in adolescence for a girl.

Cynthia, 17, the main character in Sue Jin Song’s brilliant Children of Medea, has been abandoned by the one person who could theoretically guide her through these minefields. Her mother has simply disappeared, leaving her to care for her 10-year-old sister, Julianne, with a father who is distant and always at work.

Sue Jin Song in ‘Children of Medea.’ Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

Children of Medea, written and performed by Sue Jin Song and directed by Craig Wallace, won the Best of Fringe Award for when it premiered at the 2008 DC Fringe Festival.

This year it is part of Constellation’s Season 14: Electric Impulses. There is a multicamera setup, enabling them to film a full-fledged production. Under the direction of Constellation’s Founding Artistic Director Allison Arkell Stockman, with first-rate choreography by Tori Tolentino, scenic and lighting design by A.J. Guban, sound design by Justin Schmitz, and costumes by Kendra Rai and her associate Courtney L. Wood, Children of Medea brings us all the pleasures of live theater in the privacy and comfort of home.

Sue Jin Song in ‘Children of Medea.’ Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

Cynthia, who is Korean American, has the drive and intelligence to excel. But is excellence a goal, or an end to all creativity? Her sister Julianne has opted out of this game and is full of life and laughter. But Julianne has not yet discovered boys, nor is she old enough to understand the pressures to have a ring on her finger and a family of her own.

Like many a gifted teenager before her, Cynthia takes refuge in her imagination. The unbearable pressure of her trauma, as well as her own talents, propels her into other times and other worlds. She is Alice in Wonderland, falling down the rabbit hole. She is Euripides’ Medea, in love with her consort Jason and scorned by him.

Cynthia displays many characteristics that her goody-goody image at school allows her to hide. She knows how to flirt. She frets over her figure. As Medea, she takes pride in her stature as a queen and her own emotional strength.

Sue Jin Song in ‘Children of Medea.’ Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

But at the core of her dilemma, it seems to me, is the search for a solution, not to her own future, or to what it means to be an adult female, but the suffering inherent in life itself.

It is an especially crucial time for us to celebrate Asian-American culture. Not being Asian myself, I am in no position to comment on those features of the production. But I can certainly rejoice in the opportunity to learn about it.

The concept of two sisters, one who conforms and one who does not, has an honorable tradition in dramatic literature. Think of Katherine and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew. In Sophocles’ Antigone, the rebellious Antigone is determined, against the law, to bury her brother, unlike her more conventional sister Ismene.

Song brings us two sisters whose devotion to one another is obvious, despite their many conflicts. As a writer and performer, Song offers insight into aspects of our human experience we need to know much more about. Don’t miss her necessary story.

Running Time: 75 minutes.
Strong language and adult themes. Recommended for ages 16+.

Creative Team

Written by: Sue Jin Song; Director: Allison Arkell Stockman; Choreographer: Tori Tolentino; Props Designer: George “Tommy” Wang; Scenic Designer: A.J. Guban; Costume Designer: Kendra Rai; Associate Costume Designer: Courtney L. Wood; Lighting Designer: A.J. Guban; Sound Designer: Justin Schmitz; Audio Engineer: Gordon Nimmo-Smith; Production Stage Manager: Katie Moshier; Assistant Stage Manager: Genevieve Dornemann; Technical Director: Mike Salmi; Scenic Artist: Megan Hart; Master Electrician: Emma Streett; Light Board Programmer: Paul Callahan; Video Production and Editing: Blue Land Video; Sound Mixer: Kaitlyn Sapp

EXTENDED: Children of Media will be available on Video On Demand through August 31, 2021. (The Live Stream Opening Night at CulturalDC’s Source Theatre was April 17.) Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at (202) 204-7741 or online.

 

ABOUT ELECTRIC IMPULSES
Constellation Theatre Company invites audiences to embark on an epic adventure from the comfort of home! Season 14: Electric Impulses will use a dynamic multi-camera setup to film four full-scale productions in the company’s intimate black box theatrer. Audiences will be able to tune in for the Live Stream Opening Night of each production, which will feature additional content such as a special welcome from Constellation’s leadership and a post-show reception on Zoom with the cast and creative team. Alternatively, patrons may purchase a Video On Demand ticket to watch the filmed performance within a 72-hour window during a limited three-week run. Subscriptions begin at $69 plus fees and include tickets to both Live Stream Opening Night and Video On Demand viewing options for two, three, or all four shows in the season.

SEE ALSO: One-woman ‘Children of Medea’ to power Electric Impulses at Constellation

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Sophia Howes has been a reviewer for DCMTA since 2013 and a columnist since 2015. She has an extensive background in theater. Her play Southern Girl was performed at the Public Theater-NY, and two of her plays, Rosetta’s Eyes and Solace in Gondal, were produced at the Playwrights’ Horizons Studio Theatre. She studied with Curt Dempster at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, where her play Madonna was given a staged reading at the Octoberfest. Her one-acts Better Dresses and The Endless Sky, among others, were produced as part of Director Robert Moss’s Workshop-NY. She has directed The Tempest, at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheatre, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Monongalia Arts Center, both in Morgantown, WV. She studied Classics and English at Barnard and received her BFA with honors in Drama from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she received the Seidman Award for playwriting. Her play Adamov was produced at the Harold Clurman Theater on Theater Row-NY. She holds an MFA from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she received the Lucille Lortel Award for playwriting. She studied with, among others, Michael Feingold, Len Jenkin, Lynne Alvarez, and Tina Howe. Her father, Carleton Jones, long-time real estate editor and features writer for the Baltimore Sun, inspired her to become a writer.

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