JULY IN HADES
Full length drama/comedy; running time: approx. 2 hrs.
A drama/comedy about aging, Alzheimer’s, dying, the afterlife, and the mother-daughter relationship.
After the death of her mother, July searches for answers around her loss. In a role reversal of the classic myth, the daughter finds herself journeying to the underworld, going “to Hell and back” to find her mother. Can she insure her mother’s safe passage / transition? Can July find her own way out of Hades? Will she lose herself in the underworld?
The play explores the mother-daughter dynamic between July and her mother and that of Persephone and Demeter. How do those bonds cut cross generations and time? Can mending those bonds help guide us in this dire moment of climate crisis on planet earth? Can ancient myth still teach us anything? Are gods and goddesses really any smarter than mortals?
In a current day nursing home, those goddesses and gods of myth step in and out of our workaday world; contemporary humans interact with them — sometimes recognizing them, sometimes not -– with surprising and humorous outcomes.
PLACE — Scenes alternate between:
The backyard garden of a working class, Italian-American home, circa 1955
The Day Room of a nursing home, present day
Demeter’s Temple at Eleusis (El E OO sis)
Hades / The River Styx
Hecate (Heck AH tay) – Goddess of the Crossroads / Grandmother:
Also, chief goddess presiding over magic and spells.
Said to have witnessed the abduction of Demeter’s daughter Persephone to the underworld, Hecate’s torches eventually light the way back for Persephone. Hecate is also known as The Triple Goddess – combining aspects of the maiden, the mother and the old crone. But most often, she’s depicted as an elder or wise-woman. Tough old coot. Hip old coot. Seen and done it all. Don’t give her any crap.
In this play, Hecate shape-shifts, also appearing as July’s grandmother (Bea’s mother).
Bea – July’s mother:
One of the greatest generation, Bea’s working-class background doesn’t prepare her for a daughter who wants something more –- a life of the imagination. Mother and daughter are both unprepared for the crisis of a long life that ends without health or independence. In her Alzheimer’s / dementia, Bea re-experiences her own life as a young girl, a young mother and beyond. July’s journey is to go to hell and back for her.
July – Bea’s daughter:
A photographer / artist. She teaches, but doesn’t quite fit into academia. An artist, she doesn’t quite fit into the power structure of the Fine Art World. Loves art. Loves talking about ideas – especially her own. A bit of a nerd. Her journey to the underworld forces her to confront her own worst fears around mortality.
Iris – Messenger of the gods and the Goddess of Rainbows:
She is a woman of color – and a woman who rules all colors. In this play, she’s moonlighting as a nursing home attendant in order to better understand humans.
Demeter (De MEE ter, or De MAY ter) – The Goddess of Grain:
The earth mother; the outraged mother, grieving over the loss of her child. The earth goddess who just quits it all –- everything but the search for her daughter. There’s a price to pay for what has happened and all that we’ve done — it must be reckoned with.
Kore / Persephone – Demeter’s daughter:
The maiden; the young woman yearning for something of her own. She must reclaim her own self and her own story. Her journey is one from innocence to experience.
Uncle Jupiter – King of the gods:
The Sky god who rules thunder, bluster, noise; an arrogant politician.
Neptune – God of the Seas, Oceans and Fog:
He dissolves all boundaries. Here, he’s moonlighting as a nursing home orderly –- he wheels the drug cart and distributes meds.
Pluto – God of the Underworld:
Rules all treasures found under the earth; gold,minerals, gems, oil, coal.
A man of wealth; an art-dealer. July questions his artistic taste and theories on making art.
Grandfather / The Ferryman: (non-speaking)
Both are men who love their boats and take good care of them. In this play, they are silent presences.
Chorus –- to play:
Elderly nursing home residents
The Bardo –- a chorus of post death projections