Greek myths meets modernity in ‘Metamorphoses’ - The Echo News
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Greek myths meets modernity in ‘Metamorphoses’

Taylor Theatre explores Ovid’s classic poem onstage

Photograph by Abigail Roberts

Photograph by Abigail Roberts

By Emily Pawlowski | Echo

A circular pool lay still, its waters offering a sense of serenity to the scene.

It would be a perfect place to relax and dip one’s toes, if not for one detail. This pool was not in some peaceful forest clearing; it was set into the stage of Mitchell Theatre.

This is the scene of “Metamorphoses,” Taylor Theatre’s first spring performance. A theatrical adaptation of the classic collection of Greek myths, this play focuses on eleven stories, some in their classic forms, others updated to more modern times.

Actors constantly interact with the water. Sometimes they simply dip their toes in it as they wash clothes, other times they completely submerge themselves as they make their entrances and exits through the pool.

“It’s really intriguing in this particular show how the water almost becomes another character in the play,” said Tracy Manning, assistant professor of theatre arts, department co-chair and managing and artistic director of theatre. “I think in the other plays I directed where there has been water, we used water like water. In this play, water is not water. Water is water and everything else.”

Students were faced with the challenge of constantly interacting with and swimming in the water, but they had one other unusual challenge onstage. On either side of the pool, long silk ropes hang down to the floor.

Throughout the show, many characters climb, swing or suspend themselves from these contraptions.

“Silks are pretty tough because they are stretchy and silky, so when you climb you either slip or when you pull down it stretches out,” sophomore Paula Felemi said. “That was the most challenging part for me, learning how to climb silks.”

While learning the silks was the biggest challenge Felemi faced, he had other aspects of theater to get used to. This is his first college theater production. Fortunately, Felemi’s place on the football team meant he had the strength training to be able to climb the silks and swim around the pool for over an hour with less trouble than most.

For other, more experienced actors, the play provided other challenges. Junior Evangeline Bouw found that the small cast and large number of roles meant she explored a diverse number of relationships with other cast members.

“In a traditional play, you might interact kind of on a deeper level with two or three people, and then the other characters you never really see,” Bouw said. “That’s kind of just how plays work, because you can only have so many people onstage at a time.”

The wide range of characters and stories explores many of the basic themes of humanity, such as romance, tragedy and transformation. Manning hopes students will reflect on how such themes play into their own lives as Christians and residents of a fallen world.  

Despite the mix of classic myths, actors are certain audiences can enjoy the play without any prior knowledge of Greek mythology.

“I think anyone can come and anyone can appreciate it,” senior Bradley Jensen said. “You don’t have to know Ovid’s poem, you just have to be a human, because that is what it’s about.”

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