The Persephone Project (working title)
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We are still developing this work and we hope to present the full production in 2021.
This work explores the ancient Greek myth of Persephone which depicts Persephone as powerless and ultimately at the whim of the male gods. The story of Persephone is thought to have been created as a way for the ancient Greeks to explain the changing of seasons. It is said that when Persephone was playing in a flowery meadow with her Nymph companions, she was abducted by Hades (King of the Underworld) and carried off to the underworld as his unwilling bride. Her mother Demeter, distraught by her disappearance, searched for her throughout the world. When she learned that Zeus (Persephone’s father) had conspired with Hades in their daughter's abduction she was furious, and refused to let the earth fruit until Persephone was returned. Zeus agreed, but because Persephone had tasted of the food of Hades, a handful of pomegranate seeds, she was forced to forever spend a part of the year with her husband in the underworld. Hence the changing of the seasons, her rise to earth is marked by Spring and her descent to the Underworld by winter.
The story illustrates patriarchal ownership over women. Persephone is a desirable object to be won, given away, controlled and thus subject to the whims of the male gods. Female strength is embodied by Persephone’s mother, Demeter, who endlessly searches for what has become of her daughter. Once found, she uses the only power she has, that over the harvest, to bargain for her daughter’s return. Although Persephone is granted leave from Hades, it isn’t a complete victory for mother and daughter, as Persephone is required to return each year to the underworld.
Using the Persephone myth as our starting point, we will explore what it is like to be a woman in the 21st Century living in Australia and interrogate the sexuality of women, the grey areas of sexual permission and empowerment including how power and sexuality is enacted in relationships between men and women.
WRITER: Emily Steel
DIRECTOR: Yasmin Gurreeboo
PRODUCER: Louisa Norman
DESIGNER: Meg Wilson
The development of this project has been funded by Arts South Australia and completed a State Theatre Residency in 2016.