Penn State Centre Stage's 'Metamorphoses' Professes Love's Timelessness –

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Penn State Centre Stage’s production of “Metamorphoses” includes a pool of water on the stage of the Pavilion Theatre. Photo by Sam Fremin | Onward State
The Penn State School of Theatre’s Centre Stage is back with its first main stage show of the 2022-23. “Metamorphoses” opened on Tuesday and performances continue through Oct. 15 at the Pavilion Theatre.
Premiering in 1998 and written by Mary Zimmermann, the Tony Award-winning “Metamorphoses” is based on the classic poem of the same name by Roman poet Ovid. The play revives age-old myths of Midas, Aphrodite and Phaeton, among others.
“Metamorphoses” weaves through the legends like chapters in its holistic story. Attempting to capture what it means to live, the show’s scenes paint pictures of love — and how the loss of it can devastate one’s humanity.
Opening with the story of Midas’ self-absorption, the play centers around a father who forgoes his daughter’s affection and is later left striving for it.
“The myths in this play are about those two staggering and confounding pillars of human experience: love and grief,” Sam Osheroff, the show’s director, said. “Without love, there can be no grief. Indeed, some say that grief is the price of love.”
Further instantiating the show’s themes, the Pavilion Theatre was transformed by the company. The performance space now features an enormous pool of water, filling the majority of the stage area.
The play “literalizes” its title with the symbolic use of a pool as its core setting, according to the show’s dramaturg, Arushi Grover.
“In some ways, we stand ankles-deep in the cool rush of a scene we’ve seen before,” Grover said. “Reflected in this watery surface is our past, rooting us in the now and then.”
Projecting no particular timeframe, the play epitomizes its episodes’ timelessness in its conceptual costume design and expressive choreography. The cast’s movements onstage flow in the same manner as their shapeless togas or the water they perform in.
“We tech-minded moderns might dismiss mythology as a primitive and failed attempt to explain the world,” Osheroff said. “To ignore myths this way is to miss their deeper cultural and functional place in the human psyche.”
Although the retold stories were created long ago, “Metamorphoses” makes clear that their themes remain as relevant as ever. Warnings of destructive grief and neglect are not confined to ancient times, nor are celebrations of charity and embrace.
“Sure, science might 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 runtime of roughly 90 minutes. There is no intermission.
Student tickets for the evening performances can be purchased for $12.50, while regular admission is $20.
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