Sunday, March 18, 2012

Who is Aeneas?

It's always a welcome challenge to create a role in a new play or musical.  There's none of the baggage associated with a well-known piece, no expectations from die-hard fans of the show who know "exactly" how you should play the role or giant shoes to fill from great actors who have done the role on Broadway or some other hallowed place.  And while there are some previous works underlying our show (Vergil's Aeneid and Marlowe's Dido, Queen of Carthage), this is a new adaptation of the story and the field is pretty wide open here.  Nobody really knows what Aeneas was like, how he looked or sounded.  I get to start from scratch, with just the text to guide me.

So what do we know?  He is the second cousin, once removed, to Priam, king of Troy.  He is (reportedly) the son of Venus, goddess of love; Achates, my right-hand man in our adaptation, even calls me "goddess-born."  A lot.  Another nickname for Aeneas is "dutiful Aeneas."  Apparently in the source material, there is a lot of attention paid to Aeneas' struggle between his emotions and desires, and his perceived duty, that being to build the foundations of the Roman empire.  And that's about all we know of him.

It may seem like very little, but it actually gives me a nice canvas on which to start creating a character.  He's royal blood, so there's some automatic nobility built in.  But he's also the son of a goddess, which is just kind of cool.  And the conflict between trying to do what he wants, and knowing he must ultimately do what the gods tell him to, will surely give me some interesting choices to make.

Oh, and I guess he'll have to be able to play the guitar, since we're accompanying ourselves on our own instruments.  I'll talk about that in another post.

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