November 14, 2012 | Theatre,
Ovid & Astrology
Co-written with Lisa Rowe-Beddoe.
When I sat in on my first rehearsal for Whistler in the Dark’s remount of Ted Hughes’ Tales from Ovid, I immediately noticed the text to be deeply imagistic, bursting from start to finish with sharp language describing the fundamental qualities of Air, Earth, Fire and Water. Constellations form in mid-air; actors dangle from icy-blue silks in the playing space. In one of the first myths, characters Callisto and Arcas find themselves “far out in space, transformed to constellations, the Great Bear and the Small, dancing around the Pole Star together.” An astro-hobbyist myself, I immediately saw an opportunity to call upon the help of a dear mentor and friend of mine, the fabulous Lisa Rowe-Beddoe: a local actress, educator and fellow mythology/astrology enthusiast. Asking for their birth dates, times and locations, Lisa and I took a look at how the company’s astrological compositions might inform and parallel their work on Ovid.
The company’s sun signs (the central sign determined by month and day of birth) are dominated by Fire: actors Aimee Rose Ranger and Danny Bryck are Aries, with director Meg Taintor a Leo. Actress Jen O’Connor is a Libra, adding Air to the mix. For Water, actor Mac Young is a Pisces and stage manager Vawyna Nichols a Scorpio, cooling things off. No Earth signs are present in this area of their charts; interesting for a piece centered around two sets of gorgeous silks suspended from the ceiling. The success of the actors’ silk work depends on their strength (Fire), poise and balance (Air) and flexibility (Water).
Jen is a Libra with an Aquarius moon. As her chart would support, Jen is a true ensemble player, approaching her work meticulously and maintaining her individuality without arrogance. Her Aquarian moon (our moon sign suggests inner-essence) is symbolized by the water-bearer, allowing her to handle heavy and emotional roles like Myrrha, for example, without over-indulgence – the emotions flow through her yet she can hold them.
Danny and Aimee are both Aries. Aries are the first sign of the zodiac and therefore the child, if you will – the pioneer. In the Bacchus and Pentheus myth Danny, as Pentheus, scolds an unruly crowd: “You forget, you Thebans, you are the seed of the god Mars.” Aries and Thebes are both ruled by Mars, the planet of War: aggressive, assertive, competitive, energetic. Deeply passionate, Aries possess a warrior energy and a fiery mental agility. However, there is a self-centering trap for the Aries, illustrated beautifully by Narcissus, who Aimee plays with great poise. Danny plays her reflection.
Mac is a Pisces and he is physically adept and flexible, primary qualities of this mutable water sign. Pisces are capable of great humility and compassion (Pisces is associated closely with Christianity and its teachings) but the Piscean nature is also one that is dreamy and illusory: a Pisces may struggle distinguishing fantasy from reality. Mac plays Myrrha’s father, Cinyras, a man ultimately cursed by flattery and blind desire. Similarly his character Pygmalion is lost in his love for an ideal.
Director Meg Taintor, at humble center of this dynamic ensemble, is a Leo. Leos are ruled by the sun, magnanimous and charismatic. Leo is the sign at the very center of the Zodiac and is associated with the heart. During the full moon of October 29th, at the end of this past month, rehearsals for Ovid were in full swing and Pluto was beautifully angled to the Sun. This was a very upbeat signal for Leos, a promise of creative career advancement and recognition. Watching Whistler in the Dark re-form and re-mount Ovid these past weeks, you could say that Meg’s collaborative nature and her Leonine heart are the foremost qualities that bind this company together.