Hermes, nicknamed “Quicksilver” or “Fleet-Footed” because he wore a pair of winged sandals that allowed him to fly and travel at exceptional speeds, even for a god, went by Mercury to the Romans. The son of Zeus and the mountain nymph Maia, he was so clever that he stole the cattle of Apollo when he was only a day old and invented the lyre as well. The god of travelers, merchants, money, math, magic, trickery, wit, thieves, commerce and trade, he functioned as the ambassador of the gods, often acting on the behalf of Zeus himself or delivering vital commands. A benevolent god, he often assisted mortals on missions of compassion, protecting Priam of Troy, for instance, when he went to Achilles to beg for the body of his son, and he is said to have guided the newly dead down to the Underworld. His cult was so popular he survived the classical world’s transition into Christianity, becoming Saint Belvedere during the early Middle Ages. He never married but fathered Hermaphrodite with Aphrodite and the god Pan with the wood nymph Dryophe. His symbol was the cadeuces, a magic wand entwined by a pair of snakes, and his sacred animal was the crane.
Bennett Fisher’s play focuses on four derivative traders seeking to benefit from the Greek financial meltdown and create a series fraudulent holding companies to mask the debt they own as an asset. This act of deceit brings unforeseeable consequences and an unexpected visitor – Hermes, god of commerce and thieves, the physical manifestation of fraud, who goads the group into bolder action through slippery logic, tantalizing visions of immense wealth, and the occasional punch in the balls. Inspired in part by Lehman Brothers’ role in the current Greek economic collapse, Hermes paints an impishly comic and glorifying portrait equivocation, exploitation, disinformation, misappropriation, deregulation, ruination, large corporations, financial machinations, and the age of globalization – exploring man’s godlike ability to profit off what is truly worthless.
HERMES by Bennett Fisher
staged reading July 15, 2010
Directed by Bennett Fisher
Sam Leichter (Hermes)
Vijay Vachani (Jack)
Juliana Egley (Anne)
Carl Luciana (Gil)
Charles Lewis III (Brian)
Lauren Spencer (Hestia)
Catherine Lardas (Stage Directions)
Bennett Fisher’s other plays include Exchange (produced by Misfit Toys Rep in New York and again by Threshold Theatre for the 2009 BOA Festival in San Francisco), Query (2009 BOA Festival), Daedalus (2009 BOA Short Leaps), Spark (Element Festival, Chicago), Leviathan (WCNI Radio, New London), Footprints in the Applesauce (Threshold Theatre for the San Francisco Theater Festival), The Air Without Stars, Hidden Animals (with Nick Greer), Grandfather Clocked!, and translations of Cyclops (San Francisco Theater Pub) and The Misanthrope (with Baris Ungun). Also an actor and director, Bennett has collaborated with CalShakes, Campo Santo, Intersection for the Arts, Threshold Theatre, Three Wise Monkeys, The Cutting Ball Theatre, The Pear Avenue Theatre, NCTC, Off-Broadway West, Playwright’s Center SF, Stanford Summer Theatre, and AtmosTheatre (where he is an associate artist) since returning to the Bay Area and co-founded The San Francisco Theater Pub. He graduated from Connecticut College with a B.A. in Theater and English in 2008 (where he received the Marhsall, Palmer, and Abrahms Prizes for his writing), and has studied at the National Theatre Institute of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT.
Poster Artist Information: The poster for Hermes was created by Elizabeth Conley. Visit her website here.