Selkies and mermaids and dragons, oh my! This semester, the theater department is performing the new mythological play “Of Myth and Mud,” a retelling of the Greek myth of Pandora’s Box.
This year, Weber State University’s drama department is doing a season of original works, which is “pretty rare for a university to do,” said Jenny Kokai, professor of theater and director for “Of Myth and Mud.”
“A lot of times in universities, we read Shakespeare, a bunch of historical things, and we don’t always pay attention to what’s happening that’s new,” Kokai said.
“Of Myth and Mud” features a twist in the plot that mimics the original myth.
“In this version, instead of evils coming out, it’s little vignettes, little mini-plays about unicorns and phoenixes, selkies and mermaids,” Kokai said. “Pandora learns about the things that you experience in life, good and bad, from the stories of these creatures, and what they experience . . . Pandora sees all of this and is overwhelmed by all the things you have to experience in life. Just like in the myth, the last thing that comes out of the box is hope. The idea of the play is there are good things and bad things in life, but that hope is what keeps you going.”
Catherine Zublin, a professor of theater and the costume designer for “Of Myth and Mud,” said that when Kokai came to her last year with this semester’s productions, she knew she could not allow the opportunity to design for this production slip by. As Zublin has been working on the different costumes, she has pulled influence from many different sources, including haute couture designers. For example, the costume for the dragon was inspired by a Dior dress Zublin saw several seasons ago.
“(The dress) wasn’t made by only me; in fact, I had a lot of people help me with the stitching,” Zublin said. “It doesn’t look like a dragon, but it’s supposed to reference a dragon.”
One thing Zublin said she loves about this show is the fact that it features many female leads, something she is personally passionate about.
“I really want good roles for actresses,” Zublin said. “Some seasons are really heavily male. You do Shakespeare and there are two women in the entire cast. We have a lot of really talented women in this department, so I thought it was an awesome opportunity for them to shine in leading roles.”
Both Zublin and Kokai suggested that audience members arrive early to the production so they can read the provided information about the myth of Pandora’s Box and the production. Kokai and Zublin agreed that being familiar with the original myth will help audience members enjoy the production as much as possible.
“It’s not a literal script,” Kokai said. “For example, the unicorns don’t have horns. We’ve done a lot of stuff with our design elements to hopefully mitigate some of the confusion. We have a student dramaturge attached to our production, and she has created a kind of educational packet that has information about the mythology. One of the things it has is an overview of all the creatures and what they mean and where they come from.”
Karrie Randall, a junior in costume design, collaborated with Zublin on the costume design and helped create some of the costume pieces used in the production. Randall said she easily found inspiration for “Of Myth and Mud” in unexpected places.
“The hair and makeup and the costumes are just crazy,” she said. “We get to go outside of the normal makeup. We get to do really crazy, avant-garde stuff with bright colors and lots of glitter and things like that. You don’t get to normally do that in a lot of productions.”
Tickets for “Of Myth and Mud” can be purchased online at www.weberstatetickets.com or from the main office in the Val A. Browning Center. “Of Myth and Mud” will be performed Nov. 8-9, 12-16 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Nov. 16, in the Eccles Theater.