Director’s Notes – Metamorphoses

Welcome to Metamorphoses!


It is with great joy that Constellation Theatre Company brings you these everlasting myths.  The Roman poet Ovid wrote Metamorphoses, which translates as “Transformations,” in 8 CE.  The fifteen books that comprise this master work explore romantic love, greed, devotion, selfishness, insatiable appetites, loss, vanity, grief, abstinence, ambition, forbidden desire, spirituality, generosity, passion and forgiveness.


Mary Zimmerman developed her play based on the tales of Ovid between 1996 and its Broadway run in 2002.  She interpolates the episode of Eros & Psyche from Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, as well as Rainer Maria Rilke’s 1908 interpretation of Orpheus & Eurydice. In her characteristic style, Zimmerman balances the sacred and the profane.  The ancient is juxtaposed with the contemporary.


The script calls for a pool of water, which offers unique and challenging staging opportunities, as well as abundant symbolism.  Water is the natural element without which there would be no life.  It embodies the idea of transformation – in one moment violent, in another soothing. Water inhabits so many forms, from tears to rain to the vast depth of the ocean.  Throughout time it has been the key element in purification rituals, initiation rites and baptism.  In water we may receive the divine spirit, experience forgiveness, or gain a fresh perspective on the world.  Water makes possible rebirth, redemption, even revelation.

Ovid’s myths and archetypes resonate through the ages both in waking moments and in our collective unconscious.  They may be interpreted as cautionary tales, warning us of the power of the gods or forces larger than ourselves. They encourage us to greet the world with compassion and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.  They invite us to open our hearts to love; to open our minds to the enigmatic and the ambiguous; to open our souls to our mythic side; and to open our eyes to our own potential for transformation.


Joseph Campbell wrote, “Mythology helps you to identify the mysteries of the energies pouring through you.  Therein lies your eternity.”  Both Ovid and Zimmerman begin this epic with an invocation of the gods.  The Woman by the Water tells us of Creation, “One way or another, people came – erect, standing tall, with our faces set not to gaze down at the dirt beneath our feet, but upwards toward the sky.”


This is the beauty of the human condition – our desire to look upwards; to find our place in the expansive, infinite universe; to give meaning to the images created by constellations of stars that shine for thousands of thousands of thousands of years.


Allison Arkell Stockman

Founding Artistic Director




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