Poseidon was a son of Cronus and Rhea and brother to Zeus, Hades, Hera Demeter, and Hestia. In dividing up the cosmos with his brothers, Poseidon was allotted the sea. He was also worshipped as a god of earthquakes, which he could cause with his trident, and of horses. His temperament was, appropriately, as capricious as the ocean itself: he could be calm and gentle, but also violent and unforgiving, and was known to flood cities, sink ships, and otherwise punish those who slighted him. The latter included the Trojans and the Greek hero Odysseus. He could also be pugnacious toward his fellow gods, including Zeus, whom he once tried to overthrow, and Athena, with whom he competed for the loyalty of Athens. Poseidon was married to the sea nymph Amphitrite, but – like Zeus – he had a penchant for pursuing other women, both mortal and immortal. His literally dozens of affairs resulted in a plethora of children, including the famous hero Theseus. One myth concerns Poseidon’s interactions with a young mortal woman, Caenis. After raping her, Poseidon offered to grant her anything she wished. Caenis asked to become a powerful man, so that she would never be violated again. True to his word, Poseidon changed her gender, and Caenis became Caeneus.
It was the myth of Poseidon and Caenis that inspired Bridgette Portman’s play. “I was interested in the psychology of this transgendered girl: what made her wish to be a man, and how might others, including Poseidon, have felt about her transformation? In my play, I imagine Caenis as a young woman suffering from gender dysphoria – despite her female body, she identifies and longs to be treated as male. Poseidon, for his part, embodies the very strict conception of gender roles that prevailed in ancient Greek society; he is accustomed to women accepting a subordinate station, and deeply resents Caenis for her heretical transformation. I decided to base the play’s structure on classical Greek drama, including the use of a chorus and verse. I like the juxtaposition of a very classically structured play with a subject highly relevant to contemporary society: gender identity and transsexualism.”
POSEIDON by Bridgette Portman
Directed by Katja Rivera
staged reading on December 14, 2012 at 8 PM
Marilet Martinez (Caenis/Caeneus)
Laura Domingo (Hippodamia)
Scott Leonard (Poseidon)
Jan Gilbert (Nereid)
Melissa Clason (Nereid)
Andrew Chung (Pirithous)
Sam Tillis (Latreus)
Jean Forsman (Stage Directions)
Bridgette Portman is excited to be part of the 2012 Olympians Festival. Two of her full-length Greek mythology-inspired plays, The Widow of Sisyphus and Croesus, or the Autonomous Man, have received readings through the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco; a ten-minute play, King Sisyphus, was a finalist in Red Bull Theater’s 2011 new play contest for plays of heightened language and classical themes. Several of her short comedies have been produced in San Francisco, Omaha, NE, and Portland, OR.
The mosaic of Poseidon was created by Molly Benson!