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Metamorphoses: A Play Paperback – March 27, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

First performed by students at Northwestern University, where playwright Zimmerman is a professor of performance studies (she is also Manilow Resident Director at the Goodman Theater in Chicago), this play opened at Broadway's Circle on the Square Theater in March 2002. Based on Ovid's transformation myths, the play subtly mixes the ancient stories of pathos and tragedy with contemporary language, humor, and thought, all enacted in and around a large pool of water in the center of the stage. The themes of love, the inevitability of change, and the human ability to adapt to change are timeless, as is amply demonstrated by the sometimes eerie closeness of a vignette to the original lines from Ovid, which still manage to resonate with modern viewers. The volume includes the script, a production history, and photographs from several productions. A valuable addition to either drama/ theater or mythology collections, this play by Zimmerman, who has also adapted and directed The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, The Odyssey, The Arabian Nights, and others, is highly recommended for public, academic, and high school libraries. Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh Performing Arts
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Writer-director Mary Zimmerman's lovely, deeply affecting work . . . recaptures the primal allure of the theater. . . . It shows that theater can provide not just escape but sometimes a glimpse of the divine." --Time


"Funny one moment, achingly sorrowful the next, Metamorphoses somehow manages both to lift you out of the moment you're living in and speak to it with piercing directness." --Wall Street Journal


"With its emphases on love, loss and the transforming powers of memory and the imagination . . . the production has been reducing calloused New Yorkers to sobs."

New York Times

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (March 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810119803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810119802
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the play that should have won this year's Pulitzer, and if there's any justice, the Broadway production will take away a Tony. I can only imagine what this is like onstage, but even in script form it is a poetic, witty, and extremely moving experience. How Zimmerman managed to condense Ovid's sprawling work into this deft stage piece is a mystery, but she has constructed a fluid, fascinating play that transcends genres, race, religion, and politics to speak to the hopes and desires of all human beings. Like "Copenhagen" and "The Invention of Love", this is one of those plays that reminds me why I love live theater. There is hope after all! Buy it, read it, cherish it--and if you're lucky enough to be in New York, GO SEE IT!
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Ott VINE VOICE on August 18, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not a play script in the traditional sense. This is part of the new trend of director-centered theater, where concept is all. In this case the concept is a pool, where several of Ovid's tales of strange-changes-in-the-night take place in and around. This is one of the better examples of concept theater, and it won many awards on Broadway (but not for script). Reading the original Ovid is preferable to reading descriptions of how the pool should be lit, or what music plays through scene changes. But seeing it? If done right, this material could be incredibly visually striking.
I'd advise stage directors to take a peek. This is director-friendly material. Actors, playwrights, and general readers I'd steer towards Ted Hughes' TALES FROM OVID.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Irina Greenman on January 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Like all plays, this is meant to be seen rather than read. That said, if you have seen the play, the published script beautifully evokes the visuals of what you saw on stage. If you were curious as to the thought processes behind some of the things you saw, this script will satisfy many of those questions.

The play itself is brilliant beyond description. It carries the audience through a range of emotional experiences, and finishes with one of the most beautiful endings I've ever seen in any medium - wild horses could not drag it out of me.

As a classicist whose primary research interest lies in the works of Ovid, I of course recommend reading the original work (the epic poem, Metamorphoses) before reading this script or seeing the play. Doing so will further enhance your appreciation. Having studied Ovid's writing intensively, I can say that I believe Ovid would have appreciated this play; it captures his sense of humor, and his wry and irreverent humor, combined with stark cynicism about the real nature of the world in which he lived.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adrienne Eng on February 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
Like most of Mary Zimmerman's work, in this play, she strips Ovid's Metamorphoses to its timeless essence. It becomes multiple stories of people, gods, love, want, greed, jealousy in a simple set with a pool. I saw the play in Berkeley years ago and just read the play, and it's as wonderful now as it was when I saw it back in 2001.
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I ordered this title in advance of seeing a revival of the original Zimmerman-directed production at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.. Zimmerman is noted for the power of her theatrical environments, and so you'd think you'd *really* have to see it live to understand her pretty undeniable genius. But this script is beautifully done, and the balance between dialogue and stage directions conveys the affect and atmosphere of the live event in a way I wasn't expecting. I would feel very confident teaching this play without my students being able to see a full, live production. Zimmerman is as much a wordsmith as she is a brilliant director. Whether you love theatre, or whether you love Greek mythology, this is a beautiful, emotionally profound rendering of Ovid's stories that manages to find light and contemporary resonance at the same time. If you've never read or seen any of her works before, this is a great place to start. And although the text can't substitute for the live event, the reading experience is surprisingly satisfying. I'm an academic, so I'm supposed to assess value based on historical and conceptual significance as well as aesthetic success--but this is a play that moves me on a deep, human level. When you read or see Zimmerman's work, you think: *this* is what theatre can do. Read this play!
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Spencer on April 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
This play is AMAZING! I saw it twice and HAD to buy the script! WOW!!!! The pool might seem hokey, but it's used so beautifully. SEE THIS PLAY IF YOU CAN! You're truly missing out if you don't. The script has the right lines, but misses the subtlety and humor and beauty that the live production gives. SEE THE SHOW AND BUY THE SCRIPT! KEEP THIS SHOW OPEN!
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the most amazing theater pieces I've ever experienced - and I've seen a lot! Challenging to pull off as most of the stage is a pool of water. I saw it, then took my family to see it, then told my daughter, then in college back east, that she had to take her finals early and get on a plane for the closing performance - and she did. This play inspired me to do a painting and my daughter to compose a stunning piece of music - song and painting are titled WHIRLPOOL. If this play is ever mounted anywhere you can get to - GO!
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My college recently put this play on and I was moved to tears no less than 3 times. Reading the play is less moving, but I love to have Zimmerman's wonderful words and insights written down for easy reference. Some of my favorite scenes in this play involve Midas and his daughter, Cupid and Psyche, and Orpheus and Eurydice. And, of course, there is "Let me die at the moment my love dies." This lovely interpretation of some of the best of Greek mythology should be on everyone's bookshelf.
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