Apollo, or Apollon, was the son of Zeus and the goddess of night, Leto, and the twin of the goddess Artemis. Sometimes called “Phoebus”, which means shining, he was the god of light (though not the Sun, a general misconception) and divine inspiration, including prophecy, as well as healing and medicine, athletics, music, poetry and general excellence. Considered the most Greek of all the gods, especially during the Classical Age, he has the rare exception of being one of the few gods whose name wasn’t changed by the Romans when they adopted the Greek religion. His symbol was the lyre, an instrument given to him by Hermes as an appology for a cow the younger god killed when he stole Apollo’s cattle. Handsome and an all around prodigy, Apollo was widely loved but also known for being a proud and vengeful god when wronged. A bit of a cad, he was frequently unlucky in love: Daphne transformed herself into a tree to escape him, for instance, and the prophetess Cassandra rejected him, for which she was cursed by him never to be believed. None-the-less, he managed to father a number of notable children, especially Ascelpsius, who was a doctor so skilled he could revive corpses, and Orpheus, a musician so formidable he was able to make rocks weep and trees dance. Interestingly enough, Apollo was also the only consistently bisexual god and had numerous affairs with men as well as women, most notably the mortal Hyacinth, who he accidentally ripped in half when fighting over him with Zephyr, the god of the west wind. Apollo’s sacred animal was the raven, the bird of prophecy, and the laurel tree was said to be his favorite because of his love for Daphne, and thus poets, musicians and doctors are all traditionally crowned with laurel leaf wreaths. He kept an oracle at Delphi that issued prophecies to gods and mortals well into the late fifth century, AD.

In Apollo’s Gift, by Garret Groenveld, Cassandra is a beautiful young girl, and Apollo can see this, giving her a precious gift, one of foresight.  But because she can see the future, she sees she’s meant to love someone other than Apollo.  Resentful, he makes it so that no one will believe her predictions (and really, when someone tells us the future, don’t we all shrug and go, “Really, how can you know for sure?”).  But what she says is true, how her brother Paris will ruin her country, how her husband will be killed in battle, how the Trojan Horse will be their ruin and more.  And worse.  And Apollo looks down as she goes through her life and does nothing, despite his love, as he waits for Cassandra to love him as he loves her.  What good is a gift that no one wants to use?  And what does unrequited love do to both people who cannot change their desires?

APOLLO by Garret Groenveld

staged reading July 9, 2010

directed by Tracy Ward

Nora El Samahy (Cassandra)

Rod Hipskind (Apollo)

Lise van Collem (Chorus One (Hecuba, Helen, Others)

Anthony Williams (Chorus Two (Paris, Ajax, Others)

Matt Gunnison (Chorus Three (Coeroberus, Others)

Theresa Ireland (Stage Directions)

Garret Jon Groenveld is a Poet and Playwright in San Francisco.  He holds an MA in Playwrighting and an MFA in Poetry from San Francisco State University and has studied with Edward Albee in his prestigious workshop at the University of Houston.  A founding writer of PlayGround, he has won their emerging Playwrights Award 6 Times and recieved three commissions from them.  His play The Absence of Birds was in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in 1999.  His play Missives was in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in 2004 and went on to receive it’s premiere at Theatre Rhino in 2005 and it’s New York premiere in 2008 at 59E59 Theatres.  His play The Serving Class is a winning finalist for the Global Age Project out of the Aurora Theatre for 2010, and his play The Empty Nesters is a finalist for the Hideman Prize for the National Best 10 Page Play and the full length version is a finalist for several festivals across the nation.  He is a writer in residence at the Playwrights Foundation.  He teaches playwrighting at Playground and a workshop with Tom Kelly at the New Conservatory Theatre Center.

Poster Artist Information: The poster for Apollo was created by Chelsea Harper.