Tutto Theatre Company explores the King of Olympus’ complex humanity in Zeus in Therapy, inspired by the collection of poems by Douglass Stott Parker. Read on to see why Artistic Director Gary Jaffe thinks it’s worth seeing Zeus on the psychiatrist’s couch.
He married his sister. His dad ate him. He dresses up as animals to seduce women. If anyone belongs in therapy, it’s Zeus. But what drew me in about Douglass Stott Parker’s Zeus in Therapy poems was something much simpler: Zeus can be anything except himself.
When Matthew Ervin, President of Tutto Theatre Company, suggested last year that we should look at Zeus in Therapy for our mainstage production this year, I thought, “Okay…why Zeus? Does anybody care about Zeus?” But once we began reading the poems to see if they could become theatre, I discovered that Parker’s version of the King of Olympus focused less on Zeus as King, more on Zeus trying, and often failing, to be King. Zeus was humanity’s grasping at greatness, writ infinitely large.
As we read on, I saw more and more that Parker’s Zeus was vast and inclusive, a character to be played by a multitude of actors, of all genders, ethnicities, ages and sexual identities. And that’s when the form of the show hit us: an ensemble of diverse actors playing Zeus on the verge of an existential breakdown. That sounds like theatre!
Check out these gorgeous portraits of different actors as Zeus:
We cast our net wide and brought in a team of performers with a wonderful diversity of theatrical backgrounds—Shakespeare and children’s theatre, “the Method” and mime. What a privilege it’s been to help them create Zeus together, to bring this grand character out of myth and into the modern world!
In rehearsal, as I watch the Zeuses squirm on the therapist’s chair, singing, fighting, dancing, running amok in pursuit of self-knowledge, I find the answer my first question: Why Zeus? He’s just like us.
—Gary Jaffe, Artistic Director of Tutto Theatre Company