UC Berkeley Brings Ovid’s Myths to Magical Life in Mary Zimmerman’s “Metamorphoses”

Berkeley, CA – October 2017 UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) opens its 2017-18 season with Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, a visually stunning rendering of Ovid’s mythical tales. Directed by TDPS lecturer and alumnus Christopher Herold, this poetic, modernized adaptation runs October 13-22 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (tdps.berkeley.edu/events/metamorphoses/) or at the door.

In Mary Zimmerman’s Tony Award nominated play, Metamorphoses, the classical tales of Ovid come to magical life in all their playful, passionate, savage, elemental glory. In a visually fantastic world—set in and around a pool of water—the human and the divine collide, and such familiar figures as Poseidon, King Midas and Eurydice share universal stories of love, hope, death, betrayal and transformation. Beneath clouds and rainfall, mythological characters dip in and out of the onstage pool, where the waters hold both serenity and danger.

Metamorphoses premiered at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company in 1997 and received its West Coast Premiere in 1999 right here on the Zellerbach Playhouse Stage (though presented by Berkeley Repertory Theater, not TDPS). Due to its striking design conceptthe script calls for a large pool of waterand its timeless themes of love and loss, Metamorphoses quickly become an iconic work. Over the years, TDPS has repeatedly considered producing the show, but struggled with the logistics and expense of the water element. But now, 18 years later, all the elements have aligned to bring Metamorphoses back to the Playhouse stage.

Director Christopher Herold is intrigued by Metamorphoses’ unique and exciting design challenges: “It’s fascinating how many coordination issues that this production’s emphasis on water presents.” The set, by award-winning scenic designer Nina Ball, features a custom-built pool with more with 2,000 gallons of water, as well as innovative rain features and an elaborate cloud structure. Realizing this design involves numerous complex considerations, from treating the water to prevent algae buildup, to warming the water for actors’ safety and comfort, to factoring water into fabric selection for the more than 100 costumes in the show.  

The phenomenal design will certainly captivate the audience, but the heart of the production lies in the text. “I love the play’s classical genesis,” says Herold. “Ovid’s stories stand the test of time and still have relevance and meaning to us.” In this fantastic world Metamorphoses explores the central concerns of the human heart, skillfully combining comedy and tragedy to present a full portrait of the human experience. Christopher Herold hopes this transformational play will embed itself in the audience. “I want the audience to have an internal experience that shifts their interior landscape,” says Herold. “Ultimately, I hope they have an illuminating, moving evening at the theater.”

Production Details

Metamorphoses opens Friday, October 13 and continues through Sunday, October 22, 2017 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door; Tickets for students, seniors, UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/polaroid-stories or at the door.

Metamorphoses features scenic design by Nina Ball, costume design by Wendy Sparks, lighting design by Jack Carpenter, and sound design by Ian D. Thomas.

The cast includes: Yohana Ansari-Thomas, Joe Ayers, Peyton Bradley, Theodore Foley, Samira Mariama Hamid, Narges Khalehoghli, Farryl Lawson, Tri Le, Zac Nachbar-Seckel, Ivan Oyarzabal, Alexander Espinosa Pieb, Claire Pearson, Verity Pinter, Shauna Satnick, Stephanie Toussaint.

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About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Christopher Herold

Mr. Herold teaches acting and directing for TDPS. His directing credits at Berkeley include productions of Our Town, Sauce For the Goose, Suburban Motel, Three Sisters, Escape From Happiness, Orestes, Pterodactyls, Good, Noises Off, The Crucible, Funeral Games, Infancy, How I Got That Story, The Ruling Class, and Summertime.  He is also a member of the faculty at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where he serves as the Director of the Summer Training Congress.  At ACT, he has directed studio productions of Fuddy Meers, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, The Kentucky Cycle Part I, Galileo, and Escape From Happiness.  Mr. Herold has also taught at Stanford and The Berkeley Repertory School of Theatre.  The former Artistic Director and a founding member of Jawbone Theater Ensemble, his work with that company includes direction of the San Francisco premiere of Manfred Karge’s Conquest of the South Pole and Samuel Beckett’s Play for the Bay Area Intimate Theater Festival.  Other directing credits include the San Francisco premiere of Tick, Tick . . . Boom for Theatre Rhinoceros and the critically acclaimed Achilles and Patroclus for Central Works.  Locally, he has appeared in roles at Aurora Theatre, The Magic, Central Works, Theatre Rhinoceros, Shotgun Players, the Victoria Theater, and Yerba Buena Gardens.