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4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,734 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
Called by Time the "theater event of the year," Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses brings Ovid's tales to stunning visual life. Set in and around a large pool of water onstage, Metamorphoses juxtaposes the ancient and the contemporary in both language and image to reflect the variety and persistence of narrative in the face of inevitable change. Nominated for three 2002 Tony A ...more
Paperback, 100 pages
Published March 27th 2002 by Northwestern University Press (first published 2002)
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Oct 02, 2010 Stuart rated it liked it
Zimmerman's play watches better than it reads, though some of her poetry is indeed beautiful. Being a puppetry and movement based director, her scripts largely serve as accompaniments to her productions and reading them one is acutely aware of the lack of dialogue and character interaction, and the overwhelm of exposition. She re-tells Ovid's stories well, if perhaps not terribly interestingly, the one exception being her comparison of the traditional Orpheus myth with Rilke's re-telling of it. ...more
Aug 03, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: plays_theatre
Metamorphoses is my all-time favorite play. Hands down. This play is beautifully composed and breathes new life into Ovid's work. Mary Zimmerman does not use all of the stories from the original, but does an excellent job of re-imagining several of the tales. As an aside, if you are ever so lucky as to see the play - please do. I was fortunate enough to see it when it was directed by Ms. Zimmerman and it was absolutely amazing. There was not a dry eye in the house. This is an incredibly touching ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Julia rated it liked it
not that i care about star ratings as you all know, but i do feel like i gave this an """"extra star"""" because of the necessary inadequacy of this play as a read experience. what makes this play necessary, what gives it the right to exist, is that it activates one of the most crucial aspects of ovid's metamorphoses that remains dormant as a poem—the bodies! when you get right down to it, when you want to reduce the metamorphoses in the most prosaic way possible, it's a poem about Weird Things ...more
Jun 08, 2015 K.m. rated it did not like it
Shelves: plays
I've seen this play twice, both beautifully staged/designed/blocked but reading it was lackluster. Maybe I was seduced by the visuals. The most interesting parts of the reading were the descriptions of the staging and directions, that and the Orpheus and Eurydice section (which included both Ovid's and Rilke's versions of the story). Most of the modernized retellings didn't particularly add to or grow off of the original story and the narration had a tendency to fall into simplistic explanations ...more
Apr 23, 2009 Siti rated it liked it
Shelves: 9thgrade-shelf
Siti Hajar Mohd. Khairi

Metamorphoses: A Play
by Mary Zimmerman
120 pages
North Western University Press. $14.99
isbn13: 9780810119802
(Ages 14 & up)

Midas and the Golden Touch, Alcyone and Ceyx, Narcissus, Orpheus & his lyre and Vertumnus & Pomona are just the many stories retold in this book but with a modern twist. Written in play-format, Mary Zimmerman retells the Greek myths and transforms the stories with a more modern understanding. The title "Metamorphoses" is connected
Mar 26, 2010 Alex rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed the series of vignetes. Clever cosmogony. Fun play. Oh Midas, you rich man. Midas reminds me of one question containing Midas' name in the exams Asenath let me help grade. Alcyone and Ceyx--With mercy from the gods, you two are reunited and transformed as seabirds, and fly together toward the horizon. I like the visual. Hunger and curse of the insatiable appetite. My favorite quote. "The godless are always hungry." Orpheus and Eurydice--Eurydice returns to the Underworld unknowing to O ...more
Mar 01, 2008 Joseph rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like plays?
Shelves: freshmen2
This book was a collection of greek myths rangin from medusa to orpheus. "coincidentally" my group for my wrting arts project was the orpheus group and still "coincidentally" the name of the orchestra group the ninth grade attende carnegie hall to hear. but still, instead of the myth, zimmerman modernly adpated the myths and actaulyl made a play with them that i hae yet to see. i couldnt really get how they were "that" modern but they were pretty interesting to read because of characteres i neve ...more
Jul 02, 2011 Taylewd rated it it was amazing
Problematic to give a rating to a play that is as design-heavy as Zimmerman's Metamorphoses ultimately is, and my review is influenced by a production whose design was executed very well. That said, having read Ovid's Metamorphoses I can say that Zimmerman has done a freaking fantastic job synthesizing Ovid's work into this play. Zimmerman focuses more on the beauty of Ovid than the brutality, but whatever, someone else can write a play about entire dining halls having their bowels gored by a ho ...more
Jun 01, 2008 Tiffanyy added it
Shelves: books-o7-o8
This book, I read in writing arts and it is composed of many short stories that relate to Greek mythology. All the short stories were influenced by Greek myths and then, were then modernized. These stories kept the same characters of the original Greek myth and the same theme and plot as the original one. I actually liked this book because I like reading modern stories and had a liking of Greek myths since they were pretty interesting, I do not really like reading plays since this book is in pla ...more
Jan 02, 2008 Manshui rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Play Audience Members
Metamorphoses is a beautifully written play where each story seems very catchy and detailed. It relates back to Ancient Greece and many of its famous tales. The illustrations of the photographs really captures the actions and color of the stories. I would recommend this book to any individual who's interested in plays and play audience members because by reading it you can experience many deep moments a play can portray. The author Mary Zimmerman wrote this book to show how the protagonists and ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Jessie rated it liked it
Shelves: plays
I've only read a few scenes from the play but they retell the Greek myths and stories in such interesting ways. I particularly liked the story of Phaeton and his relationship with Apollo, except that it's Phaeton telling his therapist about the relationship.
May 25, 2008 Ben rated it liked it
This book is a play that consists of many different plays and mythical tales. The plays are about Greek Gods and contains other well-known Greek tales. Many themes were present in the plays that involved people like Midas and his greed. How the world was created was mentioned and the theme love and romance was popular as well. Other themes like violence, death and hate were seen and connected with one another to creates stories with motivating plots. The book was a guide to creating our own play ...more
Feb 21, 2008 Keishi rated it really liked it
Shelves: 9th-grade
Metamorphoses contains many plays relating to Greek gos such as Zeus and Eros. Each play has different theme and I always learned new techniques from them. For example, in my writing arts class, our teacher taucht us on how the conversation between two chracters seems to be realistic. When my group made a play, it did not sound normal like the play in metamorphoses. I also learned that each play contains 100s of themes. In Eros and Psyche, we listed about 30 themes in a little amount of time and ...more
Feb 26, 2009 Jeff rated it really liked it
A beautiful and magical piece of theater that retells several of the myths from Ovid's seminal poem. It is a play about transformation and perception -- a gorgeous testament to how we, as a society, have come to ignore our mythic side despite the fact that we, as a people, have not changed at all since antiquity. If "Metamorphoses" plays as well as it reads, I'm sure it is a fascinating, engaging, and lovely evening of theater.

Several years ago I wrote a play that similarly brings together the
May 31, 2008 Julie rated it really liked it
Metamorphoses: A play is composed with many different tales and myths based on Greek gods. It's stories are short, but the message it sends out to the reader is very big and meaningful. It's importance can help humans today make the right choice and live the way they should. All these myths gives a message to the reading that will always mean something after reading it. Its myths never get old and just gets stronger with more meaning as time passes.
I learned from this book that temptation is ve
Kate Riedy
Sep 20, 2015 Kate Riedy rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! The transitions between stories is seamless and all lead to a powerful ending. Can't wait to see a production of this!
Daniel Chan
Intriguing how the text seems to have a life of its own, independent from the setting.
Feb 20, 2008 Greta rated it it was amazing
"myths are the earliest form of science...
it has been said that the myth is a public dream, dreams are private myths. unfortunately we give our mythic side scant attention these days. as a result, a great deal escapes us and we no longer understand our own actions. so it remains important and salutary to speak not only of the rational and easily understoof, but also of enigmatic things: the irrational and the ambiguous. to speak both privately and publicly."
-therapist, p. 67-8.

"let me not outli
Apr 15, 2016 Shannon rated it really liked it
I read this play for a class on Ovid, so I've actually translated the original text for many of these tales. It was fascinating to see how many details from Ovid's version of the myths that she kept (the exact meal in Baucis and Philemon, for example), while so much was altered for the stage and for humor, etc.
I think this would be incredible to see live, especially with the large pool of water as the centerpiece of all of the action. I love what she did what she did with this, and it's always
Variya Tongtip
Aug 16, 2015 Variya Tongtip rated it it was amazing
A genius work, especially the incorporation of pool/water on stage.
Kelsey Marshall
Jul 13, 2014 Kelsey Marshall rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite plays and performances of all time. Spectacular.
Meeland Mansour
Feb 01, 2015 Meeland Mansour rated it really liked it
What an amazing interpretation of classical myths!
Dec 11, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dramas-plays
I assistant stage managed a production of this show the spring semester of my junior year of college. If I was only able to do one show for the rest of my life, it would be this one, no questions asked. This is one of the most beautiful shows I've ever written and seen performed. It has a wonderful mix of tragic and comedic stories. It can be beautiful at one point, telling the tale of two lovers lost forever, and then turn into a terrifying tale of greed. Zimmerman's writing is spectacular. It' ...more
Danilo DiPietro
Jan 17, 2016 Danilo DiPietro rated it it was amazing
Fabulous treatment of the myths.
Jul 12, 2015 Mouse_Woman rated it it was amazing
Brilliant retelling of Ovid's classic.
Tiffany Lee
Feb 18, 2012 Tiffany Lee rated it really liked it
Shelves: 9th-grade
I read the Midas play and heard about other plays they are really interesting. I love how they have lessons at the end of each play! Its entertaining and i realize that every play has a little bit of a tragedy. My favorite play is Midas because it's about a greedy king name Midas and how he wished everything he touched turn to gold. Until things got out of control and he regrets everything. This lesson is about not being selfish and be great full with what you got, or else karma happens. So that ...more
Sep 08, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
It's a quick read but very well done - I would definitely be interested in seeing this play staged.

This is an adaptation of Ovid's Metamorphoses and very cleverly modern and ancient, simple and complex, humorous and deeply moving.

Not much to say except that if you enjoy mythology and are interested in modern theater, this is definitely worth a read.
Jan 31, 2016 Amber rated it liked it
Maybe I hadn't of had to read for school, I would've liked it better.
Apr 01, 2009 Spencer rated it it was ok
Shelves: quarter-3
Metamorphoses is a play that combines ancient Greek mythology with modern humor. They play revolves around a pool of water in the center of the stage which shows the connection between the acts. This ancient Greek myth with a modern twist is not your average read. The scenes have various greek myths in a different and random order. They depict the myths in the point of view of a person living in the 21st century. They use ancient ideas with modern language which makes this an interesting read.
I've seen this performed several times (both in 2001 and this past year), and it's one of my favorite productions of anything. I've never actually owned the script! But all the same.

So much of this play is performance, with the water, and the choreography. I don't really remember if it's possible for that to be anywhere near as evocative on the page. Those things, I guess, aren't, but many of the statements inside the stories are beautiful and worthwhile to read as well as perform.
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Mary Zimmerman is an American theatre director and playwright.
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“Let me die the moment my love dies.
Let me not outlive my own capacity to love.
Let me die still loving, and so, never die.”
“A: The soul wanders in the dark, until it finds love. And so, wherever our love goes, there we find our soul.
Q: It always happens?
A: If we're lucky. And if we let ourselves be blind.
Q: Instead of watching out?
A: Instead of always watching out.”
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