Excerpt from "Greek Myths," by Evan M. Nichols
Stage Manager enters and crosses to center.
Good evening, and thank you for coming today. Before we begin, I have a few announcements that didn't make it into the program. First, in our production of "Greek Myths," tobacco will be used on stage, and there will be several gunshots. Simulated gunshots. There will be mature subject matter, and some imaginative but highly descriptive profanity. And suggestive situations. And nudity. And disparaging remarks about the Belgians. And the first five rows will get wet. And with that said, we are now ready to present to you, our production of "Greek Myths." Thank you.
(Chorus enters. Each cast member has a mask, and wears it when speaking as part of the Chorus. When playing a character, they tuck the mask away. The Chorus moves and speaks together as much as possible.)
In time of legend, gods and monsters roam the Earth.
Immortals rule the mortal world, and
Man is but a pawn in games beyond his reach.
Each lowly peasant or champion Hero is dealt his fate.
There is no sway from his appointed path.
(Leda enters, to have a solitary picnic by the lake.)
Such is Fate for Leda, Queen of Sparta, fair wife of Tyndareus.
Unhappy Leda! For Zeus, Mightiest of all gods, spies her
As she wanders on the shore. Behold, Zeus!
(Thunder. Zeus appears.)
Who is this mortal so fair upon the Earth?
Never have I seen such beauty!
My heart is filled with godly thoughts,
I must make her my own.
But Zeus, she is the wife of Tyndareus!
And you are wed to Hera, the goddess Queen,
Daughter of Chronus and Rhea,
those who birthed the King of gods.
She will see if you seduce the mortal queen.
These things I know as well as I know my own kin.
But still, my mind is set, I will have this woman.
I will disguise myself, so Hera shall not see.
Lo! Zeus has transformed!
Now a swan, with mighty wings.
See how he swims to Leda,
where she feeds the fowl from shore.
What bird is this? No duckling you, a giant swan!
Do you forgo the bread I cast upon the water?
Indeed, you come onto the shore, so bold!
So fair a fowl I have not seen.
I would feed thee bread from my own hand.
Alas! Zeus deceives poor Leda!
On his approach, he takes not the offered bread,
But spreads his wings and...
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Back off, swan. I don't like where this is going.
(Zeus stops, looks around, confused. He raises his 'wings' again.)
Sorry, all you get is bread. (picks up basket.) Leda fed the swan some bread, who then swam off and left her alone. She finished her picnic, and went home to her husband, where she lived happily as queen.
But Fate decrees that Leda and Zeus...
Sorry. I believe in free will.
(The chorus stares, then tries to rally.)
CHORUS MEMBER #1
Then Mighty Zeus, um...
(Chorus Member #1 looks at others, gestures for them to join in.)
Then Mighty Zeus...
(The chorus members look at Chorus Member #1, who shrugs. They look at Zeus.)
Sorry, I actually can't make her do it.
Oh. (pause) So what do we do now?
There's got to be another story we can tell.
Yeah, something with a great hero.
And a healthier romantic relationship.
(Chorus huddles for a moment, then resumes...)
Attend the tale of Orpheus, musician,
(Orpheus steps from the Chorus.)
Who woos the fair Eurydice. A tale of love!
(Eurydice steps to the other side. Leda and Zeus rejoin the chorus.)
This sounds better.
And this ends happily?
Happy Eurydice! Joyful Orpheus!
These lovers a married couple do become!
And we live happily ever after?
Why, what happens?
Such cruel fate, Eurydice by a viper bitten.
Lost to the Underworld in death.
Unhappy Orpheus! He mourns his bride…
Could we just have the short version?
He goes to the Underworld, and plays such sweet music, that he is allowed to lead Eurydice back from the depths, IF... he doesn't look back.
Let me guess. I look back.
(The Chorus nods.)
Oh great? Do you have any stories that end well?
Such is the struggle between mortals and their gods...
All right, that's enough. Once upon a time, there was a woman named Clio. She worked for a wealthy merchant, who fell upon hard times, and Clio lost her job....
(To read how Clio triumphs against a fiendish poisoned-cookie plot and wins over the reluctant Chorus,
Greek Myths is excellent for performances and workshops by teen and young adult players. Cast size is flexible; nine or more is recommended. Running time is approximately 25 minutes.)