The Roman poet Ovid's epic masterpiece "Metamorphoses" gets the theatrical treatment from Texas High School's Tiger Theatre Company next week.
The company presents "Metamorphoses" at 7 p.m. Thursday; at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21, at the John Thomas Theatre inside the Sullivan Performing Arts Center. The adaptation of the poem was penned by playwright Mary Zimmerman.
Drama teacher Lisa Newton is working with her young thespians on this production, and she admits it's a challenge for them. But it's also a play that helps them grow, and for the audience it should be enjoyable.
"Come prepared to be entertained because these kids have worked really hard to be entertaining," Newton said. Also, prepare to see something thoughtful on stage as it addresses timeless themes.
Newton explains that the play wound up on Broadway, where it became an award-winner. A large pool of water is placed on stage for this show, acting as the center of the set. Actors perform on a thrust stage, which requires them to block differently.
"One of the things that we focused on when we first started working on this was how do we take these ancient tales and relate them to modern life," Newton said.
In her director's statement, she explores this idea.
"As our world changes at lightning speed, there is comfort in knowing that those who came before us struggled to find meaning in the world around them," Newton writes. "They created myths; myths rationalized the world. As the cast researched the script and read the myths, they discovered universal truths."
Such truths include insight into greed, hunger and revealing one's true self.
"As we went into the design part of the play process, we decided to set these ancient tales in the 1970s, a time when our culture went through an incredible metamorphosis," Newton wrote. "Whether you think the change was good or bad is up to you; however, there can be no doubt that we emerged from that decade a different society. Today we are struggling through a cultural change again. Who will we as a people, as a society be on the other side?"
Newton explains, too, that while Ovid's source material for the play is a poem it's also a narrative of interwoven tales. The stage rendition mirrors that structure. Movement and music act to tie these different tales together, she said.
When she first announced this play, students weren't sure about it, she said. But now that they've read it, they love the play. One thing her thespians have done is speak using modern inflections and tones, not in an elevated style. They also speak directly to the audience in this production.
"It's pushing them to be better actors and actresses," Newton said, noting it's not often that this play is performed by high school theater companies.
"They won't grow as performers if they're not challenged," Newton said.
Seating is limited for this production with 110 seats available per show. The show lasts roughly 75 minutes.
(Tickets: $10 advance/online or $15 at the door, $7 advance/online or $10 at the door for students. TISD employees get free admission with badge. Get tickets at www.ttcths.booktix.com. More info: 903-794-3891, ext. 2408. The Sullivan Performing Arts Center is located at 3941 Summerhill Road in Texarkana, Texas.)