Mnemosyne and Themis
Mnemosyne and Themis are sisters and both powerful Titans with their own ideas about the best path for preserving family and culture. Mnemosyne surrounds herself with art, creativity, culture, and the at least two sides to every story, while her sister Themis is concerned with justice, custom, what’s correct in the household and family, and cutting away all fiction to see the truth. The daughters of Mnemosyne and Themis all share Zeus as their father, and thus are both sisters and cousins. Mnemosyne gave birth to the nine muses after nine nights of making love to Zeus.
Daughter of Gaia, goddess of the earth, and Uranus, god of the
heavens, Mnemosyne was the goddess of memory in Greek mythology. Hers was the pool in Hades from which initiates drank in order to retain their memories from their previous life upon reincarnation (the counterpart to Lethe, from which lay souls drank in order to forget). For nine consecutive nights, Mnemosyne slept with Zeus and conceived the nine muses: Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania. According to the oral poet Hesiod in his poem Theogany, Mnemosyne and her daughters confer upon poets the power of authoritative speech usually reserved for kings. She lives on in our language now, providing the etymological source for mnemonic, of and relating to memory.
Themis was married to Zeus and gave birth to the Horae (including Dike, Justice), and Astraea. Themis and Zeus married young, and after the passion waned, Themis hung out behind the throne whispering wisdom and just counsel into Zeus’s ears. When she got out from behind the throne she gave advice about family life, relations between men and woman, founded temples for oracular pronouncements, and raised her daughters. Virtue was big in Themis’ parenting style and the moral standards she passed to her daughters were celestially high . Astraea got so disgusted by what she saw from humans that she left the Earth. Dike was Justice and her sister Horae were busy keeping time, the seasons, and the constellations running in their proper order. Themis raised daughters with a serious work ethic, sense of the proper order, and custom to each moment.
Of her side of the play she will be collaborating with Susan Sobeloff on, Larissa Archer writes, ““I was originally drawn to Mnemosyne because I found it so intriguing that the Greeks linked memory to art. We think of art as this continual, sometimes desperate, drive to say or make something “new”—the really important artists in history have been the ones who have revolutionized the medium of their practice; our popular culture even likes to call an artist someone who is constantly reinventing himself. But Greek mythology says that without memory, without a reverence for the past, there is no art. I also like the idea of
pitting that against Themis, goddess of good counsel, law, and custom. It seems to be asking for trouble.”
Susan Sobeloff writes, “Our play takes place at the waning of these two Titan’s lives. Mnemosyne and Themis and their respective daughters meet for a family reunion. Their adult children want to move their mothers into assisted living. But the sisters and cousins can’t work together due to lack of respect for each others’ past life choices. The nine muses and the outnumbered Dike must reconcile their adult careers, ideas of success, search for love in and out of marriage, with notions of propriety and what makes good art and a good story. How do they come to terms with the ideals of their youth, the expectations of their mothers, and the reality of being middle aged with an elderly parent? How do the sisters and cousins accept and honor their various paths and work together to care for their mothers?”
MNEMOSYNE AND THEMIS by Larissa Archer (“The Broken Frame”) and Susan Sobeloff (“Letters from Olympus, Letters from Helicon”)
Directed by Neil Higgins
staged reading on December 6, 2012 at 8 PM
Jean Forsman (Mnemosyne)
Linda-Ruth Cardozo (Themis)
Jan Gilbert (PJ)
Eden Neuendorf (Thalia)
Megan Briggs (Hera)
Jessica Risco (Muse)
Kat Kneisel (Muse)
Dorothy Reading (Muse)
Sara E. Renauer (Stage Directions)
Larissa Archer is happy to be collaborating with Susan Strobeloff for the 2012 Olympians Festival. She studied classical theatre at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, and technique in the city at the Jean Shelton Actors Lab and with Richard Seyd. She has performed here and in London, and writes about art for several local and national publications. www.larissaarcher.com
Susan Sobeloff is thrilled to be Olympus bound with co-writer Larissa Archer and the entire 2012 Festival community and audience. Merchants, her tragicomedy about the intersection of money, work, art and family loyalty, just went into rehearsal with director Stuart Bousel and opens this March at the Exit Theatre. Her short plays have been performed at the SF Theatre Festival, the Monday Night series at the Marsh Theatre in San Francisco, and as part of Woman’s Will Playfest. Her plays have also received staged readings with Butterfield 8 Theatre’s New Work Series and at Berkeley’s Central Works Theatre. Susan has been a proud member of Central Works Theatre Writers’ Group.