(Part of a series about creating a new production of “Metamorphoses” by Mary Zimmerman at Georgia Shakespeare, summer, 2013.)
I keep thinking about what it means to do a play in water. Especially a play about change.
My old Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says that metamorphosis is “a change of physical form, structure, or substance, especially by supernatural means.” Water strikes me as both an example and an agent of metamorphosis. It changes itself, from solid to liquid to gas. And it changes what it touches, through devastating floods, slow erosion, and dazzling displays of snow and ice.
And it changes people. Early civilizations sprang up around rivers; early explorers took to the seas. Water allowed people to experience both the stability of agriculture and the freedom of long voyages. Water is still used in religious rituals and secular celebrations. Clean drinking water is vital to our survival.
It was a stroke of genius for Mary Zimmerman to set her play in and around water. The pool on stage changes the whole theater. When you walk in the door, you feel the gentle moisture in the air. You know you are entering a separate world, a place where stories are not only told, but lived and breathed, where you don’t just see and hear the story, you feel it on your skin.
How many ways will the water of this play change me? The only way to learn is to dive in.