Gustavus Brings Argonautika to Anderson Theatre

Posted on November 2nd, 2015 by



To embark on its new season, the Department of Theatre & Dance at Gustavus Adolphus College is bringing the ages-old voyage of Jason and the Golden Fleece to the Anderson Theatre stage with Mary Zimmerman’s Argonautika. From its first telling by Apollonius of Rhodes more than 2000 years ago, the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts — and their quest for the Golden Fleece — is one of humankind’s first and best-known epic poems. It recounts the story in light of the unpredictability of the human spirit and the inspiration and tragedy of the human condition. Directed by Dr. Henry MacCarthy, the Anderson Theatre production of Argonautika will set sail November 5-7 at 8:00 p.m. and November 8 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available online at or by calling the Gustavus Ticket Center at 507-933-7590.

MacArthur Fellow and Tony Award-winning playwright Mary Zimmerman adapted the epic journey of Jason and the Argonauts into a non-stop 2 1/2 hours in Argonautika. For Director MacCarthy, the attraction of bringing¬†Argonautika¬†to the Anderson Theatre stage “is the challenge that Zimmerman’s work brings to any stage. It’s basically unstageable. Characters fly off in a shower of gold. There are goddesses, a raging bull, a sea monster, a dragon that doesn’t sleep, many of the great heroes of Greek mythology.” Actors playing multiple roles provide additional challenges and levels of complexity for the director, set and costume designers. The concept of “foreign” is a constant theme and, like today’s refugees, the theme of journey and arrival in a new land as an unwelcomed stranger runs throughout the play.

As with most epic journeys, deception, temptation, tragedy and death are constant themes. Zimmerman’s Argonautika is an account of heroic achievements with a mixture of passion and human tragedy. “Throngs of dead call out for you,” Jason’s father warns at the beginning of the voyage. Love interests are doomed. Goddesses intervene and interfere. Even as Medea and Jason fall in love, the goddess Athena speaks of “other griefs beyond counting” that lie ahead. There is fleeting success on the quest but no happy endings. And yet in the midst of this darkness, there is humor. While tragic, the journey of Jason, Medea, Hercules, Hera and crew is both fascinating and surprising. And throughout it all, the Argos carries the Argonauts from one unknown to the next until it brings them home.

Argonautika sets sail on its odyssey November 5-7 at 8:00 p.m. and November 8 at 2:00 p.m. with performances on the Anderson Theatre stage at Gustavus. Tickets are available online at or by calling the ticket center at 507-933-7590. Tickets unsold at showtime will be sold at the Anderson Theatre box office.


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