CIRCE was an ancient Greek sorceress who turned people into beasts. This is the plot/semi-script of a METAMORPHIC RITUAL THEATRE play originally devised around a banquet held at St. Andrews hall (north of Melbourne, Vict., Aust.) in May '95. The hundred and thirty "in-it-I-ates" who were invited to dine were drawn into the play which revolved around the feast, becoming Oddysseus's crew, in a piece of interactive theatre which brought two quite seperate Greek myths together (also incorporating reflections of Lewis Carrol's 'Through the Looking Glass') into a contemporary performance.

Laylah Luna Lamia played/evoked Circe and transformed her guests, who had been asked to bring an animal totem appropriate to them, into beasts. As in the epic poem by Homer,'The Oddyssey', Oddysseus was protected from her enchantments by the Moly flower given to him by Hermes. This play evolves in new directions from there, however.

In the Oddyssey Penelope, Oddysseus's wife, is the archetypal faithful wife. In a quite seperate Greek myth, ofwhich there is no mention in the Oddyssey, Penelope is the mother of the nature deity Pan, who was conceived from Hermes coming to her in the form of a goat. While some scholars insist that this was a different Penelope, there is ample evidence (see Robert Graves' "The Greek Myths") that it was the same woman who was meant to be faithful only to Oddysseus, while he was off having his fling with Circe.

How these two seemingly contradictory myths can be tied together forms the framework for this play...

{As most of the lines are improvised on the night or written by individual players, only specifically scripted lines are given as such}


*Guests/In-it-I-ate-s are led by the NYMPHS and NEREIADS through velvet drapes and shown to their seats at the long banquet table. Members of The HARLEQUINTET are playing classical music in a corner of the hall. CIRCE sits in her throne at the head of the table.

*PENELOPE is on the stage, spinning wool into threads and with them weaving a web-like tapestry. With little candlelight and seated behind the MAGIC MIRROR which seperates the stage from the banquet hall, she is a hardly-noticeable presence -in another world.

*When all the guests are seated, the NYMPHS and NEREIADS position themselves around CIRCE's throne. The music lulls. CIRCE rises and addresses the motley gypsies assembled before her, welcoming them to her island, her home, and her banquet.

*ODDYSSEUS rises and thanks CIRCE, on behalf of his entire crew (gesturing at guests), for her hospitality, and tells of dangers met upon their voyage there, and of how good it is to be safe now in her palace.

*The NYMPHS and NEREIADS begin to serve the feast. CIRCE introduces the cook and blesses her magical food. She then bids everyone to eat, drink and be merry.

*While guests begin to eat and the music livens, CIRCE shuts herself in the kitchen to cast a spell of transformation upon the magic mead. [Into it she puts a fly agarick mushroom and a piece of mandrake root given her by HERMES, not enough to effect anyone from ingestion; rather to release the spirits of these plants for the spell.]

*CIRCE returns to the banquet hall. While the NYMPHS and NEREIADS pass around the magic mead in bull-horn gourds, CIRCE dares her guests to drink deep.

*While her guests pass around the mead, CIRCE goes up to the MAGIC MIRROR at the edge of the stage, peering at her reflection, and beyond...

CIRCE: 'Mirror, mirror, what's within? -------------------------------------- PENELOPE (behind mirror): ?touhtiw s'tahw, rorrim rorriM

CIRCE: 'Mirror, mirror, WHAT'S WITHIN?'

HERMES [striking mirror then seperating it's two pieces, revealing PENELOPE to in-it-I-ates as a blue light comes up on the stage]: 'The mirror CRACKS, in reply,
allowing passage through to scry
To scry into another land, where many suitors court the hand
Of Penelope, Oddysseus's wife,
Who weaves into her web of fate the threads of life...'

*The two SUITORS enter from stage-left, melodramatically showering PENELOPE with gifts and flowery praises. Back turned, intent on her weavings, she thanks them for their gifts but rejects their proposals, insisting that she is bound to her voyaging husband Oddysseus and may take no other man.
The SUITORS argue that ODDYSSEUS has been gone for seven years and must surely be dead. PENELOPE claims she can take no other man until her tapestry is complete. Disgruntled, the SUITORS exit.

HERMES [closing the mirror-curtain/crack between the worlds as the stage-lights fade]: 'But each night Penelope unweaves what she has woven during the day, thus prolonging her fateful tapestry by delaying the cutting of the thread...
'Meanwhile back at the banquet...'

*Gradually dining and conversation resume. As the feasting continues the music rises and swells into a middle-eastern feel. CIRCE begins to wail and the nymphs and nereids dance and writhe about her. She rises and begins to dance. The music gradually dements as her dancing becomes exaggerated gesture as the sorcery begins. Drums begin to beat and HERMES leads the SANCTUS LUPUS chant

{PENELOPE ]whispering behind the MAGIC MIRROR]: 'arogardnam sarogardnaM'}

*At the climax of the SANCTUS LUPUS chant, CIRCE strikes LYCAON, the first In-it-I-ate, with her wand (which is entwined with serpentine vines), and he transforms into a werewolf, bristling and loping away from the table. Crouching in the shadows, he throws back his head and howls to the full moon shining in through the window.

*The next in-it-I-ates to be transformed are the MIRROR SNAKES. When tapped with Circe's wand they begin to writhe and undulate voluptuously, facing each other, their dances mirroring each other, and also the vines on Circe's wand.

1st MIRROR SNAKE: Mirror, mirror, what's within? ------------------------------ 2nd MIRROR SNAKE: ?tuothiw s'tahw ,rorrim rorriM

CIRCE [peering into MAGIC MIRROR]: Mirror, mirror, what's within? -------------------- PENELOPE [behind MAGIC MIRROR, whispering]: ?tuothiw s'tahw, rorrim, rorriM?

CIRCE [shouting]: Mirror, mirror, WHAT'S WITHIN? HERMES: The mirror CR ACKS, in return.
The mind, already cracked, now overturns
The inside's out, the viewer doubts
Her own reflection
The mirror invites
A closer inspection

*CIRCE peers at her reflection for a moment, then returns briskly to the table. As the MIRROR SNAKES continue their dance, and LYCAON howls, CIRCE strikes In-it-I-ates one by one with her wand, drawing out their animal natures with words and gestures. The music reels and spins dementedly from the HARLEQUINTET...

*After several more Guests have been transformed into beasts, ODDYSSEUS stands up and draws his sword. He cries out that enough damage has been done to his crew and demands that CIRCE must cease her atavistic sorcery.

*CIRCE shrieks with laughter. She turns and strikes ODDYSSEUS with her wand. He remains unchanged, standing defiantly, and draws the MOLY FLOWER from his sleeve; proclaiming that HERMES has given it to him to protect him from her enchantments.

Unperturbed, CIRCE lures ODDYSSEUS closer to her.

CIRCE: 'So, you resist my spells... But can you resist my charms? Come into my chamber, I will yet turn you into a beast...'

*ODDYSSEUS stands bewildered for a moment, then throws the Moly flower over his shoulder, sheathes his sword and takes CIRCE's outstretched hands. She leads him over the tabletop and towards her private chamber.

*As she passes HERMES, who is pulling faces at her, CIRCE turns to him in rage. She screams that he is no messenger of the Gods who has the audacity to give ODDYSSEUS the Moly flower; he is merely a foolish goat -for now that he has given the magical plant away, what is to protect HIM from her sorcery?

*CIRCE strikes HERMES with her wand. He begins to transform into a goat {playing/evoking HERMES, I donned the skin of Mandrake (see 'Elegy to Mandrake' in IMPious #2) from whose scrotum pouch the mandrake root in the magic mead had sprung} and moves towards the MAGIC MIRROR.

*CIRCE and ODDYSSEUS disappear into her chamber, fromwhich ensue cries of carnal lust and bestial passion.

*HERMES continues to metamorphosise as he cracks open the MAGIC MIRROR. He pierces his navel as he passes through the gap and onto the stage, as a red light comes up across it, illuminating PENELOPE at her loom again.

HERMES [metamorphosising]: I transform as I slip through the crack between the worlds,
Into the world between the cracks.
So I come to Penelope not in the form of a man,
Nor in the form of a God.
Naayyy, I come to Penelope cloven-shod.
Thus shall I circumvent the boundaries of her fidelity,
For morality is the wellspring of deviance...

*HERMES [in the form of a goat] trots over to PENELOPE and gently nudges her with his horns.

PENELOPE [without turning from her loom]: 'Leave me alone. I am bound to my husband Oddysseus and will take no other man...'

*HERMES [in the form of a goat] steps back a moment then butts her again, more insistently.

PEN-ELOPE [turning, angry]: 'I said leave me alone. I am bound to Oddysseus and will take no other... [she stops, staring at him thoughtfully]'

*PENELOPE shakes her head dismissively and turns back to her loom. HERMES [in the form of a goat] backs towards the edge of the stage. He stomps his hooves, snorts and charges towards PENELOPE. She steps aside and he plunges into her tapestry, tangling his horns in the threads. He struggles briefly then is still.

PENELOPE: 'I whispered your name, and like a moth to the flame, you came.
Ah, goat-moth, now I have caught you in my web...'
*PENELOPE turns HERMES [in the form of a goat-moth] around three times in the web, tangling him. Crouching before him, she begins to weave a cocoon around them both, kissing him while he ties a thread she has spun to his navel piercing. As the cocoon forms they engage in loveplay. He inserts the other end of the umbililical thread inside her vagina. She turns and crouches on hands and knees, and they join, first as goat and woman; then as she raises her abdomen, they merge into a spider, a kama-kali Arachne formation. As the music lifts, four arms rise and dance as they weave with threads and bodies and words:

'...And from this union, of God ...and human ...and animal... ....Is born one who is all of these things (and none of them)...'

*PAN's head emerges between PENELOPE's legs, and he bleats like a new-born kid. Struggling out, he falls in a fetal position before her. Stroking him, she lifts his umbilical cord and takes it between her teeth.

PENELOPE [severing the cord]: 'Pan, I re-lease you!' *PAN suddenly springs up and leaps through the crack in the MAGIC MIRROR, off the stage and onto the banquet table. He charges headlong along the long table, scattering plates with his hooves, through the motley throng of half-transformed beastpeople, out the entrance of the hall and off into the woods.

*CIRCE emerges from her chamber, robes torn, looking intoxicated. She is swilling her own potion from the bullhorn gourd and laughing madly. She begins randomly tapping more In-it-I-ates with her wand, transforming them into all manner of magical beasts. The music goes berserk.

*Amidst the chaos ODDYSSEUS staggers forth from CIRCE's chamber, looking rather wasted. He tells her he's had enough and he is returning to his home and his wife.
CIRCE protests that he must stay with her, offering him immortality, proposing that they should rule her island together.

*ODDYSSEUS declines and, pulling himself together, begins the long voyage home. He goes out the door of the hall and enters later from the stagedoor. He winds his way towards PENELOPE as she continues to weave. The SUITORS are at her side once more, imploring her to reconsider their offers.

*ODDYSSEUS arrives home and in a fit of jealous rage slays the SUITORS with his sword. With their bloody corpses strewn fresh and twitching around their feet, ODDYSSEUS and PENELOPE embrace, reunited at last. The music lulls.

*PAN pipes in the woods, and this distant sound haunts the final scene.

Art and Text copyright (c)98 Orryelle Bascule