Going for a Spin: Mechanical Wheel Anchors New Production

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We enjoyed the recent Getty blog entry and cool installation video about this innovative outdoor production of Prometheus Bound, which will feature a custom-built mechanical wheel that measures 23 feet tall and weighs five tons.

According to the Getty, the wheel represents the mountaintop to which the rebel god Prometheus is chained for all eternity in punishment for his defiance of Zeus. The actor portraying Prometheus will be strapped to the wheel’s rotating center for the entire production.

(Prometheus is not to be confused with his second-cousin-once-removed, Sisyphus, whose punishment for tricking Zeus was to spend eternity in the pointless exertion of rolling a huge boulder up a steep hill only to watch it roll back down again. Sisyphus’ twin-half-step-sister, Sassyphus, as most people know, then taunted Zeus with a vulgar song [“Zeus Stinks like a Goat”] and was condemned to an eternity of soap-making – and soap eating!)

The theatrical plot device deus ex machina (Latin for “god from machine”) has its origins in the heyday of Greek tragedies, when playwrights like Euripedes resolved complicated plots with tricky trapdoors or slick stagecraft.

In any era of theatre – including the modern day – a balance must be struck between story-telling and technical showmanship. Sometimes a production’s technical aspects can overshadow the story, perhaps intentionally. Other times they serve to reinforce and illustrate the theme in different, important ways.

We recall attending a London, England, production of Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” many years ago, where the centerpiece of the set was a jungle-gym apparatus on which the main character, Gregor Samsa, scuttled around. It helped facilitate his amazing mobility as an insect and also resembled a jail to symbolize being imprisoned inside his bizarre new identity.

We look forward to hearing more about the Getty’s production of Prometheus Bound and wish it both commercial and artistic success. Roll on!

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