Emily Mann on Argonautika
As a child, I adored reading old fairy tales and ancient Greek myths. I gobbled them up--breakfast, lunch and dinner. I read and re-read the stories of heroes and monsters, gods and goddesses. My love for these stories has continued throughout my life, and I am happy to have the opportunity to share the magic of these adventures with you. My interest in the story of Jason and the Argonauts originates with the intersection of Jason’s quest with Medea’s life. Why does she love this man, and how does he become her betrayer? In Mary Zimmerman’s version of the tale, we see Jason’s great promise, and we watch the decisions he makes as he becomes a man. For many people, the story of Jason and the Argonauts has been lost in time, but Mary’s production brings Jason’s extraordinary odyssey back to full theatrical life with her usual innovative imagery, whimsy, and visual panache.
I love having Mary Zimmerman at McCarter. A MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, a Tony Award-winner (for her Broadway production of Metamorphoses) and a major American artist, her McCarter productions of The Odyssey and Secret in the Wings captivated McCarter audiences. I saw this production of Argonautika in Chicago at Lookingglass last year. I was transported. Zimmerman has an astonishing ability to tell a tale by transforming language into thrilling visual life. I am also pleased to have another production that originated at Lookingglass Theater Company on our stage. Lookingglass Alice was a high-point of last season. I will never forget the sight of Larry DiStasi reciting Lewis Carroll’s brilliant Jabberwocky - on a unicycle!
Like Metamorphoses, this production is exciting and dangerous, certainly not for young children! Like The Odyssey, Mary’s Argonautika harnesses all of the narrative drive of this compelling tale with a simple yet sumptuous design, glorious acting, and a thrilling and utterly theatrical approach. I know you will love this story and its fresh re-telling as much as I do. Please, enjoy!