Metamorphoses will have weekend premiere
The major selling point for the Theater and Dance Department's production of Mary Zimmerman's Tony award nominated play Metamorphoses is the swimming pool on stage. It ranges from six inches at its shallowest point and four feet at its deepest. That's to get people in the seats, because how many times can you say you saw a swimming pool on stage? Beyond the novelty of the pool, the hope is the audience will appreciate the miracle that is art.
Planning for the play began a year ago and is directed by Lynne Conner, Associate Professor of the Theater and Dance Department, with technical director John Ervin and designer Jim Thurston, both of who made the massive project of building a pool into the stage possible. The play also incorporates a major dance component, which sets it apart from other productions. The department even commissioned a composer, Peter de Klerk, to write a score specifically for the play. "It's like a musical" Conner said, as it involves music and dance as major components in a grand story.
A major reason for selecting this play was because so many students could be involved in its execution. It was a way to involve Colby students who would otherwise never have had a reason to set foot in the theater world, while challenging those students who are already involved in theater to take their craft to the next level. All told, there are more than 60 students involved (your peers!), including a cast of 24. Although it presents such a logistical challenge in terms of staging and managing the cast and crew, the rewards justify the difficulties. "It's breathtaking to see the water and the actors and dancers moving in the water," Conner said as the play enters its final rehearsals.
The play, based on selected myths from Ovid's Metamorphoses, is a series of vignettes linked together by the theme of transformation and the presence of water. Water is the metaphor for transformation and occupies the majority of the stage space, as it serves as the liminal space (refer to last week's article on the art exhibit. Or talk to Kerill O'Neill, because liminal spaces are his passion). Not only does the water function as a symbol for transformation, it also changes: from a swimming pool, to the ocean, to the river Styx in the underworld. While change is a major theme of the play, so is the constancy of love. "Not who you love or how you love," Conner explained, "but that love is the thing you seek throughout your life. It's the thing that heals us when we are nearly destroyed."
Although based on classical mythology, the look of the play is not all white columns and togas. "It's modernized and made contemporary" Conner said. "The storytelling makes everything fresh and new. It is set in and out of time." For example, the God Zeus is a punk, like Sid Vicious was a punk, and Midas is a wealthy businessman in a 3 piece suit, the way you think of Donald Trump.
As revealed in the combination of the ancient and the modern, the play explores the lasting cultural capital of mythology, which has been the major point of the Metamorphoses Project based around the play. The Metamorphoses Project has been a semester long "array of events and classes that intersect with the idea of myth" Conner said. "It has always been important to make the connections between a piece of art and the larger culture, and to invite the audience into the project. Art is supposed to help us understand our lives."
After a long year of planning and much publicity this past semester, the play will finally open this weekend November 13, 14, at 7:30 p.m. and November 15 at 2 p.m. with additional performances next weekend on November 19, 20, and 21 at 7:30 p.m. All performances occur in Strider Theater. Tickets are free so come early as this will be an event you do not want to miss.