Io was a young, innocent mortal girl. Her only crime was being beautiful enough to catch the eye of Zeus, the Father of the Gods and all around horndog. While Zeus was making unwanted advances on her in a cattle field, his wife Hera got suspicious and came down to earth to investigate. Zeus did what any cheating husband would do to avoid a confrontation with his wife; he changed Io into a heifer. Hera did what any jealous wife would do to avoid a confrontation with her husband; she punished Io by sending a gadfly to constantly sting her so she would flee to the ends of the earth. (“Io” means “The Wanderer”). During her painful journey, Io encountered the Titan Prometheus, another victim of Zeus, who was chained to a cliff as punishment for giving the gift of fire to the human race (as told in Aeschylus’ play “Prometheus Bound”). The Titan informed Io that although her suffering will continue for years, Zeus would one day take pity and de-cow her. She was also told that she would have a son, Epaphus, a great leader, and an ancestor to the heroic Heracles. To many, Io is a symbol of perseverance through whatever grotesque changes are forced upon ourselves, and the world around us.
Christian Simonsen’s new play “Io” is a sequel to Aeschylus’ play “Prometheus Bound”. In that ancient classic, Prometheus is chained to a cliff, and then visited by Hermes, Oceanus, and others who offer him threats, chastisement or comfort. The play is unique among Greek Tragedies in that all of the cast of characters are immortal except one: Io (granted, at the time of the action, she’s a half-crazed mutated heifer, but otherwise a run of the mill mortal). This modern play takes place decades later; Io returns to the cliff to thank Prometheus for his moral support during her travails. While all of the other characters from the original play remain ageless, Io is now clearly middle-aged, her children all grown up. No longer an innocent nymphet lusted after by a God, a cursed creature envied by a Goddess, or a selfless mother raising future heroes… what happens to a woman when she reaches that stage in her life where legends no longer have a use for her?
IO by Christian Simonsen
staged reading October 28, 2011
Directed by Emlyn Guiney
Xanadu Bruggers (Chorus)
Rachel Ferensowicz (Chorus)
Maura Halloran (Chorus)
Charles Lewis III (Prometheus)
Kai Morrison (Oceanus)
Gabrielle Motarjemi (Io)
Karen Offereins (Stage Directions)
Brian Thomen (Hephaestus)
Nick Trengove (Hermes)
Christian Simonsen loves Greek Mythology, but not the sanitized, PG rated versions that he was initially exposed to as a kid (note to high school teachers: Leda boinked a swan. It’s a part of the foundation of Western Civilization… just deal with it). His scripts have been produced by the sketch comedy troupes “Please Leave The Bronx” and “5by5”, and by Pianofight Productions’ “ShortLived 2.0” and “ShortLived 3.0”. He is honored to be a part of the SF Olympians, and is looking forward to seeing what his fellow writers in the festival dream up!
The image of Io was created and printed by Liz Conley. You can view her portfolio, here.