In referencing Rena Fraden’s 2001 Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theatre for Incarcerated Women and Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.’s 2013 Black Medea: Adaptations in Modern Plays, I suggest that transposing Euripides’s myth into modern black contexts often endows ancient Greek drama with epistemological primacy, whether seeking the “universal” redemption it has long exemplified, or resisting that primacy through the return to a “past” or “heritage” foreclosed by the catastrophe of racial slavery. My critique is not of the substance of the works these two books showcase, all of which constitute important contributions to theater activism. Rather, I aim to expose the transpositional limits of the figure of Medea, whose racial marking (to which I suggest Euripides hints, whether consciously or not), while signifying as stranger/outsider, is often obscured by a gendered, geographical and/or existential “othering,” rather than recognized as a plight of ontological proportion. As such, a blackened Medea can appear to possess the (structural) capacity afforded by her godly, supra-subject position. But what are the incalculable depths of her subjection and dishonor when her blackening pitches her “being” into an ontological dilemma that neither catharsis, nor the intervention of a deus ex machina can recuperate?

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