Theatre department ‘splashes’ in with refreshing take on Ovid

By Gabby Dolgonos

Originally published on October 23, 2014

Senior Adam Southwick as Zeus in “Chaos.” Photo by Zoe Kaiser

This year’s fall play, Metamorphoses, is set to be a unique production complete with a twist in structure and advances in set design.

Rather than following a chronological narrative, Metamorphoses depicts eight individual myths from Ovid’s famous collection of love stories, also titled Metamorphoses.

“We had to figure out how to support hundreds of gallons of water and how not to rot the wooden stage.”

Though the myths are not tied together in a traditional story, they are still connected by the theme of change, which manifests itself not only through the physical metamorphoses that the characters experience, but also through the constant presence of water. “Water represents the transformations because it’s so fluid, and water itself is constantly changing,” director Teresa Bookwalter said.

To emphasize the theme’s significance, the play is taking last year’s concept of on-stage water a step further. While the 2013 fall play Macbeth concluded with rain pouring down onto the actors, this year’s whole production centers around two pools of water in the middle of the stage, one of which is a eighteen inches deep.

The pools were the most difficult part of the set to construct, according to set director Kyla Morris. “Everything had to be built around the water,” Morris said. “We had to figure out how to support hundreds of gallons of water and how not to rot the wooden stage.” To ensure their stability, the pools were built with a plywood frame and then supported by three layers of material: plastic, pond underlay and pond liner.

Senior Ana Comesana as Pomona and junior Boris Alguliev as Vertumnus in “Pomona and Vertumnus.” Photo by Zoe Kaiser

Unlike some previous plays, Metamorphoses will also feature an ensemble cast with no lead roles and each actor having about the same amount of screen time. “It was a bit disappointing at first that there weren’t any lead roles, but now I really like that it’s an ensemble piece,” junior Akeylah Hernandez said. “It’s more of us coming together as a group and all of us making it a great show, which is something we don’t get to explore as often.”

“It was a bit disappointing at first that there weren’t any lead roles, but now I really like that it’s an ensemble piece.”

The cast consists of 36 roles and because of its size, will not make use of the usual double cast, in which actors switch lead roles on different show nights. Instead, most actors will play the same parts for every performance.

The large cast size was one of the reasons Metamorphoses was chosen to be performed over other plays. “We try to give as many people a chance to participate as possible,” Bookwalter said.

Many actors will also have minor roles throughout the play, filling in as trees, parts of houses or doubling as dancers. The dances, choreographed by Wendy Jones and the six dancers themselves, will serve as transitions between certain myths, especially in cases with stark tone contrasts.

The adapted play version of Metamorphoses, originally written and directed by Mary Zimmerman, brings several of the classic myths into a modern context. Certain myths are more modernized than others, as evidenced by the costumes which range from the traditional bare feet to contemporary sunglasses. For example, King Midas is wearing a business suit, as opposed to a traditional toga, according to senior Avery Chung-Melino.

Though the play is based on Ovid’s ancient myths, both its modern interpretation and its timeless themes will allow the audience to relate to its content. “It’s going to be a really fun show to watch,” Hernandez said. “I think people might even enjoy it more than Macbeth because the language is so much easier to understand.”

Metamorphoses will be performed on four different days this week, showing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday at 2 p.m., with tickets costing $8 at the door.