Merely Players modifies classic play Prometheus Bound

Members of Merely Players rehearse their production of Prometheus Bound. The group followed an unusual preparation schedule, casting the show last semester and preparing lines over the summer. Photo By: Alec Ferretti
Members of Merely Players rehearse their production of Prometheus Bound. The group followed an unusual preparation schedule, casting the show last semester and preparing lines over the summer. Photo By: Alec Ferretti
Members of Merely Players rehearse their production of Prometheus Bound. The group followed an
unusual preparation schedule, casting the show last semester and preparing lines over the summer. Photo By: Alec Ferretti

Prometheus Bound, directed by Steven Wooley ’14 and starring Zachary Boylan ’16, premieres September 27 after a rather unconventional rehearsal schedule.

Normally, a show’s process follows the schedule of the audition, callbacks and then a first read-through as a cast. However, Prometheus Bound was cast last semester so the cast had to memorize the script over the summer alone, without the read-through.

Boylan, who plays Prometheus, said, “Memorizing is easier when I have an idea of what the whole show is going to be like.” Knowing how actors will read characters – their tones and other factors–helps other actors realize how to creatively respond, which creates more of a dialogue to help memorize.

Therefore, having the script over the summer allowed for less cast collaboration, but the actors already had their lines well memorized once they began rehearsals.

“It’s hard to do a play so early in the semester. It’s a struggle to get everyone together at the same time, but they had the script over the summer so everyone was off-book when they came,” said Wooley.

The cast rehearses four days a week for two hours, which is a shorter amount of time than many other productions. Because the cast had the material before, they feel confident going into the final week of rehearsal that they will be ready in time.

Prometheus Bound is a play, originally written by Aeschylus, chronicling Prometheus’ story. Prometheus was the titan who took fire from the gods and gave it to man. Zeus punished Prometheus for this action by bounding Prometheus to a rock and having an eagle eat his liver every day. Of course, Prometheus never died because titans are immortal.

This might be a well-known Greek myth, but Wooley’s adaptation of the play will show another side to the story.

“There are also things that we don’t think of as the core of the story. It’s a story you know, but you don’t know the whole story,” said Wooley.

As director, Wooley also had the ability to choose which show to produce. He chose to do Prometheus Bound with Merely Players, a student theater group, because the group wanted to do something early in the year, and Wooley wanted to work in classical theater. He chose Prometheus Bound specifically because it is sight-specific.

“It could be a fun play either to interpret or just to stage,” said Wooley.

Wooley’s script is different from Prometheus Bound’s original script because he looked at the script as flexible. He broke the chorus into three different sections and shifted Kratos’ and Bia’s lines, which changed their character profiles.

In the original script, Kratos—a male—speaks the lines, while Bia—the female—simply stands on stage. In Wooley’s adaptation, Kratos and Bia split the lines originally intended for just Kratos.

The cast is very supportive of Wooley’s creative changes in the script.

“Splitting up the chorus was good because when people all speak at the same time, it can be creepy. So, we’ve split it up into a way where more people can speak and it is less cultish,” said Boylan.

Creating new characters was specific for this play, but when Wooley directs a play, he frequently changes parts of the script.

“I will cut or shift scenes to tell the story I am looking to tell,” he explained.

Wooley has experience in both acting and directing. He acted throughout high school, but quit acting when he felt that he was not good enough to pursue it as a career. He again became involved with theater, now as a director, because of encouragement from his friends at Vassar. Last year, Wooley decided to throw himself into directing.

“When directing, I can look at the whole world of the play instead of the specific look an actor has to take,” he said.

This holistic view of the play is an aspect that Boylan does not find as pleasurable. Boylan co-directed Antigony last semester, and saw directing as very stressful. Boylan found delivering helpful criticism along with encouragement—a routine the co-directors employed, to be difficult.

Boylan has been acting for as long as he had the opportunity. He is an undeclared drama major and would like to break into voice acting upon graduation. Last year, he acted in Henry IV part I and II; he is also a member of Merely Players. He auditioned for the play with only a basic understanding of Prometheus Bound because he loves acting and Merely Players.

Because of the play’s staging necessities, it will be outside regardless of weather. Boylan expressed worries about the temperature, especially because his character, Prometheus, is bound on a rock the entire time. Other characters enter the stage to speak to him and then leave the stage and can warm themselves, a luxury Boylan does not have.

“It will be difficult, but I think it will be a rewarding experience,” said Boylan.

Wooley’s only worry about the sight being outdoors is that a rowdy crowd of people passing by could disrupt the performance. But Wooley countered his worries when he said, “I believe in my actors, they’ve done great work so far.”

The production is set to premiere September 27 at 8 p.m. The other show times will be September 28 at 12 p.m. and again September 28 at 8 p.m. The show runs roughly one hour long and will be performed on the lawn in front of Cushing House.

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