Penn State Center Stage’s “Metamorphoses” Professes the Timelessness of Love


Penn State Center Stage’s production of “Metamorphoses” features a pool of water on the Pavilion Theater stage. Photo by Sam Fremin | forward state

The Penn State School of Theater’s Center Stage returns with its first main stage show of the 2022-23 season. “Metamorphosesopened on Tuesday and runs through October 15 at the Pavilion Theater.

Created in 1998 and written by Mary Zimmermann, Tony Award-winning “Metamorphoses” is based on the classic poem of the same name by Roman poet Ovid. The piece brings to life the age-old myths of Midas, Aphrodite, and Phaeton, among others.

“Metamorphoses” weaves through legends like chapters in its holistic story. Attempting to capture what it means to live, the series’ scenes paint images of love – and how its loss can devastate its humanity.

Opening with the story of Midas’ self-absorption, the play centers on a father who renounces his daughter’s affection and later strives to obtain it.

“The myths in this play are about these two amazing and puzzling pillars of the human experience: love and grief,” said series director Sam Osheroff. “Without love there can be no sorrow. Indeed, some say that sorrow is the price of love.

Further instantiating the themes of the show, the Pavilion Theater was transformed by the company. The performance space now has a huge pool of water, filling the majority of the stage area.

The play “literalizes” its title with the symbolic use of a swimming pool as its main setting, according to series playwright Arushi Grover.

“In a way, we’re standing ankle-deep in the cool rush of a scene we’ve seen before,” Grover said. “Our past is reflected in this watery surface, rooting us in the present and the past.”

Projecting no particular timeline, the play embodies the timelessness of its episodes in its conceptual costume design and expressive choreography. The movements of the actors on stage flow in the same way as their informs gowns or the water in which they play.

“We modern, technologically-minded people might dismiss mythology as a primitive, failed attempt to explain the world,” Osheroff said. “To ignore myths in this way is to miss their deeper cultural and functional place in the human psyche.”

Although the stories told were created a long time ago, ‘Metamorphoses’ makes it clear that their themes remain as relevant as ever. Warnings of destructive grief and neglect are not limited to ancient times, nor are celebrations of charity and hugging.

“Of course, science could explain the origins of the universe,” Osheroff said. “But sometimes it takes a story, a myth, to unravel a heartache.”

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with a duration of approximately 90 minutes. There is no intermission.

Student tickets for evening performances can be purchased for $12.50, while regular admission is $20.

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