Play immerses audience in Greek, Roman myths
Play immerses audience in Greek, Roman myths

Oct. 29, 2012

Tales of the Greek and Roman gods will take center stage when LaGrange College Theatre Arts presents "Metamorphoses"at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1–3 and Nov. 8–11 in Price Theater.

The play, written by Mary Zimmerman, is based on David Slavitt's translation of Ovid's epic poem. Ovid was a Roman poet who is considered one of the most important sources of classical mythology.

Set in and around a pool – actually built into the stage – the show includes such myths as Midas and Orpheus and Eurydice. All told, there are nine tales woven into the play.

Director Kim Barber Knoll calls the production unlike anything ever produced at Price.

"Zimmerman's writing is the most creative storytelling," she said. "All the myths involve change, and the pool of water on stage plays a huge role in that change. The use of water has added a completely new dimension to the actors'
performances and to the interpretation of the text."

While the set was being constructed, Knoll said the cast rehearsed in the pool at the Charles Hudson Natatorium.

"As we did physical and vocal work in the pool, the actors began to understand how significant the water was to the play. It was important for them to discover early in the process how the water heightens the storytelling."

Mary Hannah Robertson said working in the pool is much different than acting on stage.

"You can use the water as part of your performance," she said. "You can play with it, splash it, whatever is appropriate for your scene. The pool becomes another character."

Joanna Myers noted that simple movements become different once done in water.

"You just move differently in water," she said. "There is the natural resistance you have to learn to work with. And if you are supposed to be tense in a scene, you have to fight against the relaxation you normally feel in water."

The cast features 17 students – 11 theatre majors, a music major, two baseball players, a psychology major, a soccer player and a Servant Scholar.

Knoll said baseball players Henry Jacobs and Robby Williams were terrific discoveries.

"I told Head Baseball Coach Kevin Howard we were doing a play about Greek and Roman gods, and that I was looking for very fit athletes who would be comfortable onstage. I asked if he could recommend anyone, and he said he had two players in mind."

Although everything about acting is new to him, Robby said he likes the experience.

"I knew I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by," he said. "I've learned that acting is very much like baseball, with all the teamwork involved, except I don't have to talk while I'm playing baseball."

Angie Forreo, a biology major and soccer player, said some of the myths were fairly common, but she's enjoyed learning about some of the lesser-known stories.

"The character, Erysichthon, who is overcome by hunger, is fascinating. His myth has some powerful things to say."

Senior theatre arts major Cody Smith had a bit of an advantage over his cast-mates because he already knew a lot about the play.

" 'Metamorphoses' was one of the first things I read in Script Analysis when I started college," he said. "I loved it and was so excited when I learned we would be doing it this year. This play is about everything, all humans, our imperfections, the bad things and the good things we do. It's an adaptation of pretty much everything that is life."

Because the script includes more than 50 characters, the actors have several different roles. Even for the most experienced, that has been a little difficult.

"There are so many characters, so there is less script for each one and less time to develop character from only the lines," said D.J. Grooms, a senior theatre arts major. "You have to go back to Ovid, to the original, to do your character research. And learning to switch back and forth between the characters has been a challenge for us all."

Kristoffer Appel, a senior music major, has appeared on the Price stage several times, but always in a musical.

"This is my first play with spoken lines," he said. "It's really fun to explore this side of performing on stage. There is a lot of music in 'Metamorphoses,' though. It serves to heighten the drama and the emotions, and is an important part of the show."

Knoll cautions that there is one story that involves Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who becomes offended when a young girl, Myrrha, refuses to fall in love. Aphrodite curses her with a lust for her own father. The subject matter is handled tastefully through movement and dance, she said.

But more than anything, the cast said the play is fun.

"I was surprised at how relatable it is," Joanna said. "There is nothing stuffy about it at all."

"It is quite entertaining," said Hannah Sharp, an exchange student from England. "It is very funny, as well."

Meagan Thompson, a freshman from Newnan, noted that the show is unlike anything most people have seen before.

"You will experience every emotion," she said. "It takes you on quite a journey."

Knoll said the play's choice reflects one of the college's core values.

"'Metamorphoses' is an excellent choice given that the college-wide theme this year is civility. The lessons learned in all of the myths are timeless."

To make reservations, call the box office at (706) 880-8080 or email.

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