Hephaestus, called Vulcan by the Romans, was the second son of Hera and Zeus, though in some traditions he is Hera’s son by another lover. This is unlikely, however, considering Hera’s fidelity to Zeus, and it is more generally believed that Hephaestus was merely closer to Hera, especially after he was thrown from Olympus by Zeus when he attempted to intervene in an argument between his parents. Crippled by the fall, Hephaestus walks with a hobble or in some tradition is carried by robot assistants of his own design. The god smiths and craftsmen, he was the artisan god of amazing skill, building all the palaces, weapons, armor and jewelry of the other gods. He was married to Aphrodite, ostensibly as a consolation prize from a remorseful Zeus post-fall. Hephaestus loved her blindly, despite her open affair with his brother Ares. His symbol was the hammer and his sacred animal was the Donkey. His forge was said to be under Mount Aetna in Sicily.

Of her play about Hephaestus, author Evelyn Jean Pine writes the following:

War over. Titans vanquished. Olympians triumphant. Zeus ascends.  So why can’t his son, Hephaestus — god of craftspeople, volcanoes, fire — chill?

Sure, Hephaestus is aggravated by his bum leg, his prying mother, Hera, and his unfaithful wife, Aphrodite.  At least he still has the comfort of the only creatures he’s ever been able to lean on:  the three golden robots he designed to look exactly like his estranged wife, the goddess of love.

But why’d he have to go and promise his pal Prometheus, who created human beings, that he’d protect the goofy little creatures forever?  Particularly, now when Zeus has commanded Hephaestus to destroy the pathetic mortals once and for all.

Worst of all, Hephaestus suspects his dazzling robots are a little too fascinated by the human beings.  Is he paranoid, or has he really heard his machines talking revolution and rage against the gods?  If the god of volcanoes gets anymore antsy, the eruption will be earth- shattering.

HEPHAESTUS by Evelyn Jean Pine

staged reading July 31, 2010

Directed by Evelyn Jean Pine

Matt Gunnison (Hephaestus)

Charles Lewis III (Prometheus/Zeus)

Gwyneth Richards (Hera/Hestia)

Sara Breindel (Alpha)

Lisa Darter (Beta)

Lauren Spencer (Omega)

Megan Cohen (Pandora)

Sunil Patel (Stage Directions)

Evelyn Jean Pine is a three-time Emerging Playwright Award Winner.  Playground commissioned two of her full-length plays: Astonishment (2008), about the invention of movies, and The Secrets of the World, about 1492. Her full-length play about robots, women and the Greek god Hephaestus for the No Nude Men’s Olympian Play Festival in July 2010. A member of the Dramatists Guild, she teaches performance studies at San Francisco State University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Doug Peckler and her twelve-year old son, Gabe.

Poster Artist Information: The poster was created by Nathan Anderson. Visit his website here.