GCP's 'Metamorphoses' brings Midas touch to classic tale


Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 1:20 a.m.

Facts

"Metamorphoses"

  • WHAT: Modern retelling of classic work by Roman poet Ovid
  • WHEN: Preview performance 8 p.m. today ($5 general admission); opens 8 p.m. Friday, continues 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Feb. 4.
  • WHERE: Van York Theater, 4039 NW 16th Blvd.
  • TICKETS: $15, available at Omni Books in Westgate Plaza; day of show tickets available one hour before showtime at box office (376-4949)

  • Through the ages, the tradition of storytelling has survived and been passed down from generation to generation, albeit with the changes technology has brought along the way.
    Cavemen had their stories, the ancient Greeks and Romans had their myths, and every other culture in every corner of the world from then until today has had its own form of storytelling.
    The Gainesville Community Playhouse is keeping that tradition alive while borrowing from the past with its upcoming production of "Metamorphoses," a modern retelling of Ovid's classic poem.
    The play, written by Mary Zimmerman and directed by Jerry Brewington, features 12 local volunteer actors in the parts of such famous characters from classical antiquity as King Midas, Aphrodite and Narcissus, among others.
    Unlike the original poem written by the Roman poet Ovid, which featured 250 ancient Greek myths in 15 books, this version only includes 10 of those myths, woven into a series of vignettes. This version of "Metamorphoses" creates a mixture of old and new by using modern English and updating some of the ancient myths.
    Brewington says he fell in love with the play the first time he saw it and submitted it for the GCP's 2006 season. Even though the original poem is 2,000 years old, the play's themes of loss, redemption and transformation still apply today, he says.
    "These themes never change," Brewington says. "These are all themes that are still relevant today."
    To illustrate them, the play was written to include a pool on the stage, something that had never been done before at GCP and proved to be a challenge for everyone involved.
    Safety had to be factored in, especially when dealing with high-wattage lights around the water, Brewington says. The actors also had to get used to performing in the water and changing quickly out of wet costumes.
    "Everyone was gung ho," he says. "Everyone just faced the challenges. It's all come together and worked out well."
    Water is an important feature of the play because it acts as the metaphor throughout the vignettes and is used to create visual and sound effects.
    "It's like going to a play, an art show and a light show all wrapped up into one," says Pete Roe, 51. Roe plays several roles including King Midas, the mythical ruler with the ability to turn everything he touched into gold.
    For some of the actors, working with an unconventional stage setting is part of what has made being involved in the play fun.
    "I've never interacted with such an elaborate set before," says 35-year-old Samara Golabuk, who plays several roles including Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, and Ceres, the goddess of the harvest. "I think for me the whole prospect was so intriguing and enjoyable."
    Jan Cohen, 60, who also acts in several roles including the narrator and Lucina, the goddess of childbirth, first saw "Metamorphoses" in New York shortly after Sept. 11.
    "It really resonated with people there," she says. "It's about loving and losing and changing and all those things that New Yorkers were dealing with. I found it terribly moving."
    With so many factors like narration, music and acting all choreographed together, the play becomes something like a symphony, Cohen says.
    "It's hard to explain," she says. "People just have to experience it."
    Unlike the original poem written by the Roman poet Ovid, which featured 250 ancient Greek myths in 15 books, this version only includes 10 of those myths, woven into a series of vignettes.

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