Post-Show Questions for Discussion and Activities
Note to Educators: Use the following assignments, questions, and activities to have students evaluate their experience of the performance of Argonautika, as well as to encourage their own imaginative and artistic projects through further exploration of the play in production. Consider also that some of the pre-show activities might enhance your students’ experience following the performance.
- Argonautika: A Discussion. Following their attendance at the performance of Argonautika, ask your students to reflect on the questions below. You might choose to have them answer each individually or you may divide students into groups for round-table discussions. Have them consider each question, record their answers and then share their responses with the rest of the class.
Questions to Ask Your Students About the Play in Production
- What was your overall reaction to Argonautika? Did you find the production compelling? Stimulating? Intriguing? Challenging? Memorable? Confusing? Evocative? Unique? Delightful? Meaningful? Explain your reactions.
- Did experiencing the play heighten your awareness or understanding of the play’s themes? [e.g., overcoming adversity in the face of fear, the meaning of the word “Hero,” destiny.] What themes were made even more apparent in performance? Explain your responses.
- Do you think that the pace and tempo of the production were effective and appropriate? Explain your opinion.
Questions to Ask Your Students About the Characters
- Did you personally identify with any of the characters in Argonautika? Who? Why?
- What qualities were revealed by the action and speech of the characters? Explain your ideas.
- Did any characters develop or undergo a transformation during the course of the play? Who? How? Why?
- In what ways did the characters reveal the themes of the play? Explain your responses.
Questions to Ask Your Students About the Style and Design of the Production
- Was there a moment in Argonautika that was so compelling or intriguing that it remains with you in your mind’s eye? Can you write a vivid description of that moment? As you write your description, pretend that you are writing about the moment for someone who was unable to experience the performance.
- Did the style and design elements of the production enhance the performance? Did anything specifically stand out to you? Explain your reaction.
- How did the production style and design reflect the themes of the play?
- What mood or atmosphere did the lighting design establish or achieve? Explain your experience.
- How did the sound design enhance your overall experience?
- Did the design of the costumes and makeup serve to illuminate the characters, themes, and style of the play? How?
Divorce Papers. In the matter of Jason and Medea’s relationship, we know that Jason eventually abandons Medea despite the sacrifices she made for him. When Medea later kills their children, Athena suggests there may be justification for her brutal actions. Have your students imagine that setting for the play takes place in New Jersey in 2008. Jason has dragged Medea to America from an exotic land, only to announce that he is going to leave her and marry the daughter of a Texas tycoon. Although modern times could yield the same results as this ancient tale, let us pretend that Medea now wants to settle this in a court of law. Have your students draw up divorce papers that justify Medea’s claims of cruelty against her estranged husband. What are her demands in this modern world? What kind of recompense could be made to punish Jason properly for her pain and anguish? Is there some special punishment the judge could demand of Jason outside the realm of typical judgments?
Deus “Extra” Machina. Often Greek epic heroes are given aid by the gods or other supernatural forces without whose intervention they would fail or die. Over the course of Argonautika Jason is given a great deal of assistance in completing his quest by goddesses Athena and Hera as well as by his mortal sorceress-love, Medea. Have your students review the events presented in the play and speculate what might have happened in each scenario had Jason been left unassisted. What might have been the immediate outcome of the conflict in question? What might have been the long-term outcome? Have your students choose one of the events that occurs in Argonautika and write a short story that describes how it might have turned out had Jason been unaided. They can also imagine a new ending for the Argonauts’ quest.
- Roll Call. In a modern take on the recruitment of Argonauts, Mary Zimmerman’s Argonautika includes a chanted “roll call” that is in the style of a “rap” or “hip hop” song. It is upbeat and lends an irreverent tone to what could have been a pedantic announcement of Jason’s companions. Have your students find a classical myth that they want to modernize through song. Either by creating their own tune, or using an existing song and rewriting the lyrics, have them tell the tale, or some section of a tale, and perform it for the rest of the class. It does not need to be funny, nor is comedy frowned upon.