Medea per Strada

Agosto 13, 2019 in il Traspiratore, Net Journal, Primo Piano, Spettacoli, Teatro da Federica Balbi

Seen in the 22nd June 2019 at the ʻFestival delle Colline Torinesiʼ

Medea per Strada is a play that brings us – literally – where action takes place. We get in a small van and Medea (Elena Cotugno) is the chatty passenger who starts telling her story, the one of many migrant girls who get trapped in the prostitution racket.
Like the woman of the myth, the protagonist has been convinced to leave her land, and then deceived by her lover. In the very intimate space of the van, we empathise with the tragic story the actress tells us with rare intensity, as we drive towards the outskirts of the city.

Figure 1. Photo source:

     As we arrive at the theatre, we are told to get into the small van which can only host seven people at a time. We start the ride, and wonder where we are going, when a woman knocks on the van at a crossroad and gets inside. She’s Medea, long black hair and heavy black makeup, carrying two small bags and talking with her strong Rumanian accent. She is directly addressing us, both her public and fellow travellers, until some understanding is created among her and the few of us. Outside, streets get less and less illuminated, and they are walked by girls who wear high heels and short or no skirt – same as Medea, as she takes off her trousers.
Medea’s sincere love and ambition for a quiet life are betrayed. Tears fill her eyes several times, at the sweet souvenirs of her hometown as well as for the bitterness of the time that followed. Elena Cotugno’s acting is impressive, the timing and pace of her words and movements are perfectly calibrated, the silence telling what she cannot. We are close to her in both a metaphorical and a physical sense, and share with her the experience of the journey until tragedy takes over.
The text, by Filippo Sinisi and Elena Cotugno, is delicate and moving, but never pathetic nor plaintive. Gianpiero Borgia’s direction smartly inserts moments of music and action to balance the long monologue.
Medea per Strada is part of a broader project, which the production Teatro dei Borgia calls ʻteatro civileʼ. In every new town, they meet the local associations who help prostitutes get out of their situations or support them in other ways, and Elena often volunteers with them. They know the streets where girls wait for clients, the peculiar situations and risks. They show Elena and the team where the van can go, that is, what surroundings will enter the performance, what occasional passers-by will be the secondary characters.
Traditionally, Medea is a figure of the stranger, powerful, mysterious, exotic and frightening at the same time. Today as well, through her refusal to endure the treatment she receives, she claims her status as the critical voice of a desensitised society.
To know when and where the next performances will take place, visit the website:

Federica Balbi