In the dominant version of the Orion myth, he is not only the world’s greatest hunter, his desire for the chase and the kill cannot be satiated. One day, while running through the woods with his trusty hound Canis, his friend/lover the archer-goddess Artemis, and her mother Leto, Orion boasts of his grand plan to kill all the beasts on Earth. He promises not to cease his hunt until that goal is complete. Hearing this, the goddess of the Earth lets loose a deadly scorpion, who chases and kills the so-called hero. After all Orion’s impressive feats, including slaying the world’s fastest rabbit and fiercest bull, he is felled by this tiny, sneaky crustacean. Was Orion’s promise hubris? Was it truth? Doesn’t matter– even if he could succeed, he must not be allowed to; he must be stopped. This myth is a cautionary tale about cosmic balance.
Of her play, Meg Cohen writes: There is nothing in our vocabulary of modern archetypes that better suits Orion than the icon of the 1970s cop. Aviator shades, flared pants, a moustache, and a relentless hunger to smoke his prey out of the forest of streetlamps and neon, out of the warren of backstreet alleys. The 1970s cop is defined by his need to hunt, and by his skill. In Joe Ryan, our hero is a police detective chasing the members of the Scorpio gang, including a speedy buck-toothed heroin addict (“The Rabbit”), and a heavyweight enforcer with the strength of a bull (“Taurus”). Joe’s female counterpart, friendly rival, and spiky romantic interest is CIA agent Missy, the daughter of Lieutenant Leto, Joe’s seemingly sympathetic boss– who may, in fact, have ties to Scorpio. Or perhaps Leto just has a more nuanced perspective about the fine line between criminals and those who chase them. As Leto tells Joe: “You’ve threatened to kill all the criminals in this city, to wipe the underworld away, but life is not about genocide or perfection, it is about balance. Hunt too much, too many, too well, and you throw off everything. The urban ecosystem needs its scum.” Joe Ryan is an adventure story, a period piece, and a look at how our idea of a hero has and hasn’t changed since ancient times. It’s a gritty, playful attempt to translate the pacing and thrill of visually-driven cinema narratives like Dirty Harry and The French Connection into acrobatically poetic language for the stage. Above all, it’s a tale about a hunter who is driven to chase his prey, even when the cost to himself may be beyond measure.
ORION or JOE RYAN by Megan Cohen
staged reading October 7, 2011
Directed by Claire Rice
Kirsten Broadbear (Missy)
Benji Cooper (Stage Directions)
Matt Gunnison (Joe Ryan)
John Lennon Harrison (The Bull)
Sunil Patel (The Rabbit)
Allison Payne (Leto)
Megan Cohen is a playwright and dramaturg. Her scripts have been staged in San Francisco and New York City by companies including Pianofight!, Flying Island Lab, SF Theater Pub, Robot Vs. Dinosaur, and Love Creek. Recently, Three Wise Monkeys produced her one-act A Three Little Dumplings Adventure (dir. Jessica Holt) as part of the 10th Annual Bay One Acts Festival. Her next project is the full-length play How to Love, premiering at Performers Under Stress in October 2011. It’s inspired by Plato’s Symposium and features a kidnapping, iambic pentameter sonnets, and a food fight. After seeing her work, people have called her “an absurdist,” “a natural brechtian,” “a wackjob,” and “smarter than I remembered.” She is currently the San Francisco Bay Area’s most frequently produced female playwright. She’s also a graduate of Stanford University (BA, Drama with Honors, ‘05), and the Literary Manager at Cutting Ball Theater. More at www.MeganCohen.com
About The Artist
Chelsea Harper is born a storyteller and an artist. Dabbling in all manners of storytelling including acting, singing, drawing and writing, Chelsea has engrossed herself and become a Jack of all trades, but has since narrowed down her scope of interest to art and writing in hopes of honing those skills instead of spreading herself thin. She has taught herself to draw in her childhood but has since started taking classes at the Junior College, which has helped her focus in and expand her skills. She has also been an avid writer since childhood and, following thus, she has become an avid and dedicated participant in National Novel Writing Month and Script Frenzy, which is a challenge once a year to write more than fifty thousand words or a hundred pages respectively in the span of thirty days. She has won each challenge since 2006. To this day, she is working on her own novel which she hopes to one day soon publish as well as her own made from scratch pop up book. Within the year, she hopes to transfer to the Academy of Art where she’ll finally be able to stretch and learn more about art and storytelling after having been stunted by her stay at the JC. Afterwards, she will hopefully make her way to Pixar, the storytelling behemoth that she’s dreamed about joining since she was eleven, and make a niche for herself in the story department. For now, she’s working hard on collecting scholarships and finishing her personal projects.
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