by Fiona Templeton
Fiona Templeton takes the most basic and ubiquitous of forms, the journey story, and extracts its governing drives. Like a previous generation of radical feminist spinners of word-forms Templeton takes a stand for the primacy of language in shaping the world of experience and in constructing female subjectivity—over a lifetime. In her hands it achieves that most unlikely of qualities, delicacy and even humor.
- from the Preface by Claire MacDonald
The Medead's relentless waves of language serve as tender and disturbing portals between the anxieties of ancient and modern myths. All encased within an intricate yet airy encyclopedic structure that fearlessly defies format or description. This is an uncompromising look at the scope of Medea, unimaginably complicated, huge, brutal and heady. An emotional labyrinth ingeniously bookended by the conceptual and the poetic. A beautiful adventure that is not for the faint of heart.
I've been listening to Fiona Templeton and her collaborators read this choric poem/drama for over a decade. In it I hear all of contemporary English open to a force of collective enunciation (nation language, idiolect) against 'standard' English and the economic and gender-based violence it has facilitated from its inception into our present. Superseding all instrumental violence in this long poem/drama is a sustained attention to language not so much as nonsensical or semiotic as widening into larger ambivalences, potential, and subtle vocalizations (phonemics, neologism, homophony)--an anti-epic border song marking the shifting and thus precarious territorial claims of an Anglophone geopolitical unconscious.
Ha Ha Ha Hetera! Consistent intelligence, the refusal of empty theatrical pyrotechnic in favor of deep experimentation of language: neologism, enjambment, historical rhyme, wry and sad humor, blessed combinatory characterization (hum animalism, metametonymy, bodily multiplicity), visual proficiency/energy/speed, sound sequences that tumble from the tongue and which reopen our unfinished business of confronting power in color (goldignity, pauper pauper purpurea) , food ("rootless leg of artificial lamb")and the ("corpse of the") body politic, I dare say…I SAY… Fiona Templeton, in this great epic work, The Medead text version, the companion of great theatrical epic she directs to the deepest gratification of theater that I have ever known, The Medead performance version, has managed to satisfy that persistence and persistently unsatisfying quest always chasing we feminists writers makers to figure out what the hell to do about the problem of the mythic female figure that mother that lover that demon, our darn brilliant mouth. ME DEAD? Here's where me lives.
- Rachel Levitsky
Fiona Templeton, poet and performance-maker, directs the New York performance group The Relationship. She created the 1988 landmark work YOU--The City, an intimate Manhattan-wide play for an audience of one, and co-founded the Theatre of Mistakes in London in the 70s. She has published numerous books of poetry and theater. She lives in London and New York.
Publication date: April 2014