Inside the Splash Zone – performing Metamorphoses
By Krista Apple-Hodge (Aphrodite and others)
I know what you’re wondering. And yes, the water is warm. Delightfully, wonderfully warm.
As the audience takes their seats in the Haas theatre, the heating pumps have just been turned off and the water is at a balmy 104 degrees. By curtain call, it’s usually cooled to about 100. Not too bad for a night’s work, eh?
We had a week of rehearsal on dry land before we got in the pool; and when we did, we were given a detailed and often cheeky list of “Pool Rules” by the stage management team. It included the temperature info I gave you above. It also outlined personal requirements. Little sacrifices. No lotions, hair products, or makeup (they’ll stay in the water and make it…. well, gross). And, yes, no peeing in the pool.
As I’m sure you can imagine (and probably sympathize), it’s not every day you’re given pool rules at work! Maybe a few of you out there are few water-workers, but the majority of us just aren’t. So this feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us all.
There were plenty of pool-related things we were prepared for. Dry skin; water up the nose. There were also a lot of things that we weren’t prepared for. EVERYTHING in our lives is sopping wet, basically, all the time. We spend eight hours a day in towels and bathing suits. Our ears are waterlogged. Our lips are chapped two months before winter has even arrived.
We also weren’t prepared for the water’s power onstage. We’d been properly warned; Doug Hara, our director, kept describing the pool to us as “another cast member.” But there’s simply no way to prepare yourself for its beauty, its power, and its demands.
One of our biggest jobs as actors is to stay ‘in the moment’ onstage. To stay completely alive to the story we’re telling and not check out at all, even when we’ve said the same words a hundred times before. This show is a great exercise in that. We truly have no idea what’s going to happen next. The water is completely unpredictable, and it keeps us perpetually on our toes.
Metamorphoses pays great homage to all the elements: water, fire, earth, sky. These elements are thrillingly beautiful. Essential for our survival, and our evolution. They deserve our complete reverence, admiration, and respect.
It’s a great reminder of why the stories of these gods were told in the first place. The story of Poseidon, the god of water and the sea; the story of Apollo, the god of fire and the sun; or Ceres, the goddess of the harvest and the earth. The gods who, as the stories go, used these elements to reward us when we obeyed, and punished us when we didn’t.
So of course, you try and follow all the rules and maintain your respect. But even when you follow all the rules (no running backstage; no horseplay in the pool), accidents still happen. People still slip on the pool deck, get water up their nose, get singed by a candle or two. Just as in the real world, hurricanes and forest fires and elemental events completely out of our control are still visited upon us. Unpredictable.
But unpredictability is also where transformation takes place. It’s no accident that the water is where change always happens in our play. Where true love transforms grieving lovers into birds, where lust gets the better of a father and daughter, where greed gets the best of a disrespectful man, and where lovers lose and find and lose each other again and again.
It’s always our hope, as storytellers, that the stories we tell will change something in you. Offer a new perspective, or maybe just a little bit of entertainment, comfort, hope. The stories found in Metamorphoses have all of these things to offer; and the act of telling them has changed us, too. For all its unpredictability, and all its Rules and demands, the water has been a transformative place for us. We think it will be for you, too.
See you poolside!
& the cast of METAMORPHOSES