Dionysus High School, 1983. Donnie Dinko, a quirky art rocker, has agreed to write the songs for senior prom, “Rumpus on Olympus”, but he’s only got one done! Cindy Finster, a happy-go-lucky musical theatre nerd who has just moved to town may be his only hope. Can these two geeky kids get it together, strap on a guitar, pound on a keyboard, and come up with a rockin’ song for each of the twelve Greek gods? By tomorrow?
- analyze how two or more texts/media sources address similar themes or topics
- analyze the differences and similarities of mythology from multiple cultures
- examine the role of mythology in ancient cultures
- Common Core Writing: CCR Anchor Standard 3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
- 35 min. – 50 min.
- Students collaboratively dissect the elements of Greek mythology and physically explore how to represent plot.
- Common Core Writing: CCR Anchor Standard 9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the author takes.
- 1 hr 15 min. – 2 hr (Can be split into multiple lessons)
- Students collaboratively reinterpret the source material for Geek Mythology: I Was a Teenage Immortal by applying the themes and topics to modern society.
An Interview with Jeff Carey, Playwright of Geek Mythology
What are these plays about?
- These plays are about the power of imagination, the truth of mythology, and the joy of rock-and-roll. These plays are about mankind’s earliest stories, two lonely kids not long ago, and the glorious act of creation. These plays are about lightning, love, life, death, and rock-and-roll.
- Zeus on the Loose was written for the school tour for Creede Repertory Theatre in the fall of 2009. The tour was underwritten by The Kruger Foundation, whose goal was to promote literacy. I had previously written about Aesop’s fables (Meet the Beasts), the brothers Grimm (Grimm Pajamas), and so Greek mythology seemed like a perfect next step.
- The criteria for the tour was simple, two actors and stage manager load the set into a van and head out into the vast western landscape. I love literature, and enjoy a little structure every now and again, so I was happy as could be. My goal with these pieces was twofold: Aside from giving the kids a taste of these literary riches, I primarily wanted to give them an unforgettable experience that would turn them on to theatre for life. It was far more important that they left the show excited about theatre, than that they briefly retained a handful of dry facts. The essential thing was to use the elements of drama to their fullest: music, humor, conflict, story, fear, deep emotion, etc.
- These school tour shows involved such characters as a penniless master and his far more intelligent slave, two grieving brothers, and finally two lonely children. Thus in Zeus on the Loose, the raw material of Greek mythology, as epic, and essential as it is, becomes secondary to the story of two lonely kids forging a friendship through imagination, story, and a struggle for power, which finally ends in cooperation and mutual affection. The play demonstrates how these myths, which have endured through the ages, are still so vital, because they contain essential truth about relationships, emotions, and finally life and death itself, and that they provide the metaphors essential for two humans to come together.
Why set these play in the 80’s? Why do these plays now?
- The interesting thing about examining ancient mythology by setting our story thirty years ago, is that we implicitly explore the concepts of history, time, and memory. I graduated from high school in 1980, attended college, and kicked around New York City for most of the 80’s, so my memories are different from my collaborators, who were younger then. We originally set the plays in the 80’s because the music was so compelling and fun, but I think we achieved something else very vital in the process: By setting the story in a time period just slightly removed from our own, we give ourselves some distance, a step back to perceive the myths in a fresh, and clearer way. We need to do these plays now, because as our fragile world threatens to spin out of control, we must remind ourselves of the enduring cultural legacy of yore. We should also remember Greek Mythology.
How do you summon a Greek God?
- Any time two people come together and create something that has never existed before, it is a sacred undertaking. No matter what type of god you are after, any time two souls join together in an act of creation, whether it be a song, a play, or a baby, we are witness to something divine, however you choose to perceive the almighty. They don’t call him The Creator for nothing! The Greek gods are so powerful and relevant, because they were first conceived literally back at the dawn of civilization. They were the first way that people came up with to explain the world around them, and we summon them up still, because they still explain so much of what it means to be human.
What does this show tell us about friendship?
- Friendship occurs when two people hold a shared vision about how the world could be. Friendship occurs when two people discover someone else who is more interesting than themselves. Friendship often takes struggle, but anything that is worthwhile is worth fighting for. These plays show us that boys and girls can have wonderful deep relationships that have less to do with romance, and more to do with the coming together of two halves of a single whole.
Any interesting facts you want to mention?
- My brother Marc was Zeus for Halloween when he was about ten years old. Marc with a scrawny kid, with pencil thin arms, but Mom put together a costume that included a blue toga, a huge black beard and wig, a laurel wreath, and a cardboard lightning bolt. I can still see my brother standing on our front porch, holding up his arms in an attempt to look mighty. That combination of a delicate, scrappy child, and the trappings of mighty Zeus has always stuck in my mind, and inspired me greatly as I wrote these plays.
Show and Ticketing Information
The show will run February 25 through March 9, 2014.
For more information about tickets, show times or prices, please visit http://www.thecoterie.org or 816-474-6552.
- Following this link will take you to further information about applying for field trip grants to help fund your visit to The Coterie!