Dionysus, the son of Zeus and the mortal princess Semele, was almost destroyed by a jealous Hera when she tricked Zeus into appearing before Semele in his true form, thus incinerating her. The god Hermes, however, snatched the fetus Dionysus from Semele’s body and sewed it into Zeus’s thigh where he finished growing before being born again- thus earning him the name “Twice Born.” Also called Bacchus, and Liber by the Romans, Dionysus was the god of wine, revelry, madness and the theater, and could be by turns benevolent and sweet, or violent and terrifying. Most likely an eastern god adopted by the Greeks, he is often perceived as the youngest of all the Olympians, and when he came to the court of the gods the goddess of fire, Hestia, gave up her throne to accomodate him. His symbol was the thyrsus, a staff topped with a pine cone and surrounded by a grape vine, and his sacred animal was the dolphin. His followers, a group of drunken madwomen, were known as the Meanads or the Bacchants.
Nathan Tucker’s play, Dionysos Bromios, will contain dual plot-lines:
A lost young man from the California wine country wanders into a homeless encampment in a San Francisco parking lot. He is soon befriended by a jolly beer-soaked street alcoholic and the kindly old homeless woman whose fire never goes out and whose teapot is never empty. Battered and confused, he tells a fragmented tale of his upbringing in a remote vineyard, the strange death of his mother in a thunderstorm and his traumatic years living under the yoke of his jealous stepmother and her cruel sons. He soon encounters the mysterious Monsieur Denis, a wealthy sommelier and patron of culture who lives in the rambling Victorian mansion at the foot of fair Parnassus. The young man becomes the guest of honor at a bizarre annual soiree where he is indoctrinated into the Cult of Dionysus and learns of the bloody Mysteries that lie hidden in the forgotten Underworld of San Francisco.
Cesar Dolores, the charming and seemingly populist mayor of San Francisco, gives a press conference: The city is to be gentrified – cleaned up. The homeless are to be routed. San Francisco’s debauched street fairs are to be shut-down. Public displays of drunkenness and unauthorized street theatrics will not be tolerated – stiff fines will be levied. Arrests will be made. Unbeknownst to his electorate, the mayor himself has a taste for cocaine and whores – as does his beautiful and miserable daughter, Callie Dolores, who is not beyond turning a few tricks, stealing a few baubles and making a few threats to get what she wants. The public would be shocked indeed to know of the true nature of the dark relationship between father and daughter. To further complicate things for the despotic mayor, there have been reports of outbreaks of odd behavior in the city – law abiding citizens turning into mobs of madmen, sudden orgies on the Muni, riots, people behaving like animals. Mayor Dolores learns of the recent arrest of a young charismatic cult leader – a stranger claiming to be Dionysos Bromios, the Thunderer, God of Joy & Madness, Lord of the Vine. He claims to have manifested to take back his city and lead the Mayor to his hubris, his disgrace and murderous downfall.
DIONYSUS by Nathan Tucker
staged reading July 8, 2010
Directed by Nathan Tucker
Brian Martin (Zagreus/Dionysus)
Barbara Van Dermeer (Narrator)
Maggie Ziomek (Hestia)
Leer Relleum (M. Denis/Mr. Frank)
Dimas Guardado (Mr. Di Capra/Mayor Cesar Delores)
Kai Morrison (Bacco)
Warden Lawlor (Silenus)
Jamie Lee Currier (Arianna/Callie Delores)
Catherine Lardas (Chorus)
Jenni Gebhardt (Chorus)
Nolan Mechum (Chorus)
Stefin Collins (Chorus)
Nathan Tucker is an actor and artist in San Francisco. He has performed with numerous companies in the Bay Area including No Nude Men, Dark Porch Theatre, Thunderbird Theatre Company and AtmosTheatre. This is his first foray into the thrilling and dangerous world of playwriting.
Poster Artist Information: The poster for Dionysus was created by Brett Grunig. Visit his website here.