Survival and retelling at the planetarium
Stories like that of the Greek goddess Medusa have often been told from the perspective of the victor.
This summer, local artists are hoping to reclaim that narrative.
On June 27, July 25, and Aug 25 “Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth” will transform the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science. Described as a “multimedia musical experience,” the show will feature a live band that plays live music with animation and voice-acting previously recorded.
“When you look at the myth a little closer, it’s about survival, it’s a #MeToo myth, and it needed a new treatment, a retelling, and a deeper telling” said Laura Crook, the actress behind Athena.
In the mythology told by the Roman poet Ovid, Medusa was once a ravishingly beautiful maiden with many suitors until she was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple. The enraged Athena turned Medusa’s hair into serpents and gave her a face so ugly it could turn people to stone. Medusa was later beheaded by the god Perseus using a bronze shield and presented it to King Polydectes as a wedding gift upon marrying his mother.
Crook says that the play examines broader themes of empowerment and women in a patriarchal society.
“In my experience there’s always been a sense in a patriarchal society of divide and conquer—making women compete with one another and not necessarily holding each other up. And more and more in the last two years, I think women have really started to hold one other up and support one another,” Crook said.
Many of these themes are at the forefront of the #MeToo movement, which Crook is no stranger to. In Nov 2017, Crook was among nine women who came forward accusing playwright Israel Horovitz of sexual misconduct in the New York Times.
“Brian’s storytelling really intersects all the things that we are experiencing now in conversations on bystander behavior, about witnessing and listening to people’s truths, without necessarily commenting on them or trying to fix them but holding space and hearing stories,” Crook said.
Medusa was not the beneficiary of being allowed to explain her story. Instead, Athena chooses to blame her beauty for the assault, and what happens to her is seen as just punishment.
“I think that this reclamation of this myth is like putting her head back on and letting her speak,” Crook said.
The play was written by Brian King, who is also a member of the band What Time Is It, Mr. Fox? which will be playing live at the planetarium.
The story’s voice work was recorded at a studio in Gloucester. Director Eileen Little said that multiple takes were done of each line and carefully selected to fit the play. In addition, animation was provided by Ruth Lingford and Norah Solorzano.
For Little, when asked what she hopes audiences will walk away with, she responded that she hoped they will think further about the information that they’re presented with on a daily basis.