I've been fortunate enough to collaborate on a play titled "Thinking of Monkeys" with three other women who work with me at Disney. We have been working on the 30-min project since January, and we were recently accepted to perform at the Chance Theater in Anaheim as part of their annual fundraising festival, called Chance-A-Thon. Please consider purchasing tickets or donating! All funds go directly to the theater. We are performing in a 99-seat theater, and we are hoping it won't be too embarrassingly empty! Donate or buy tickets here:
My writing for the play focuses a lot on the Greek character Chrysothemis, who is Electra, Orestes, and Iphigenia's little-known sister from the Orestia series. But as I was researching her more, I learned that "Chrysothemis" is actually a name given to two other minor Greek mythological figures, including one character who is a lover to Apollo, who allegedly beat Apollo in a singing contest, and who is the daughter of Demeter and the sister of Persephone....and as some of you may know, I have been obsessed with the Persephone/Demeter myth since high school, and wrote/directed a play based on the myth for my senior thesis in college. My original vision for "Thinking of Monkeys" included all of Chrysothemis' incarnations, but like all good art, the play had to be edited, and Chrysothemis' lesser-known personas had to be discarded.
But the Demeter's-Daugther version of Chrysothemis struck me, and I love the little poem I wrote about her. Since I won't be sharing it onstage in March, I decided to share it on my blog this week.
Revisiting the Persephone myth also made me feel nostalgic for the beautiful project I created with another group of amazing women back at Northwestern University, so I thought I'd spice up this poem by including some of the photos we took for that play, both our publicity photos and production photos. All the pictures were taken by the incredible photographer, Burlesque performer, writer, and all around badass lady Alaura Hernandez- you can follow her on Instragram (@alaura_hernandez) or visit her website, alaurahernandez.com.
Chrysothemis 1 of 3: Chrysothemis the Daughter of Demeter, Sister to Persephone, Chrysothemis the Singer and Protector of the Earth
I wake up in the morning and all is golden.
It is my day.
It is the day of the earth.
I haven't had a day in a long time.
Everything around me is beautiful.
Come visit me in the underworld, my sister says.
Come meet my husband.
But I do not want to visit the land of the dead. I do not want to go to any place where the sun cannot shine.
And so I do not. I stay in my golden bubble. I stay and I sing and the flowers grow.
I am much younger than Persephone.
But she could never make things grow. Not like I can.
She was made for death from her birth.
She takes life. I make it.
She is beautiful but it is a violent beauty.
Her cheeks used to be soft and now they are sharp.
Her face is a little bit dark.
I will keep my soft, white skin, thank you very much, I will stay in the light where everything is safe, thank you very much.
I will stay with my mother.
Today I will sing for the Sun God.
Today I will enchant him, today he will fall in love with me. He will envelop me in his warm, golden arms and we will make children, we will create life.
You fell in love with death, Persephone, but Persephone, I fell in love with life.
I sing. He shines. He says nothing but he pulls me close to him and he kisses my lips, harder than I thought he would.
He is the sun, after all.
I fell in love with life. I fell in love with light.
It burns all over and I try not to cry, for this is what I wanted, wasn't it?
Is this love? I cry. Is this love?
Still, he says nothing.
I live with the sun now.
Everything around me is golden, surrounded by the sun.
My children grow like flowers in my hands.
I nurture them, and in the sunlight they blossom.
They call me mother.
But I am not a mother, I think. I am Chrysothemis: daughter, sister.
No one knows my real name, not even my husband. (Is he my husband? We never had "the talk")
I am Chrysothemis. I protect the Earth. I am natural law.
But my sister is a queen.
I am not a queen.
Outside a squirrel is eating it's afternoon meal.
Nature is so beautiful, I think. Nature is so simple.
My daughter comes up beside me.
What is he eating mother?
A nut, I am about to reply, but then I look closer.
The squirrel is eating a mouse.
I thought squirrels were herbivores, my daughter says.
They are, I say.
I am going to visit my sister this winter.
I need a break from the light.
The light is good, but too much light can blind you.
I never minded my blindness before.
I liked my world to be small.
But now I know that blindness will not protect me from the pain.
It will only allow me to pretend it doesn't exist.
It will allow me to pretend others' pain does not exist.
It will be very dark, when I visit my sister.
You can live in the dark and in the light, she says. Just look at me.
But I am not you, I say.
I am just Chrysothemis, your little sister.
Take some time to dream today : )
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