Myths are important on so many levels. They are a rich source of archaeological evidence about the past. The myth of Eros and Psyche describes how the Gods ruled life and culture in ancient Greece. A king visits the Delphic oracle, and obeys the words of the Gods, leaving his daughter on a mountainside. The entrance to the Underworld is found within a forest cave. Coins are placed in the mouth of the dead to pay the Ferryman. Honey cake is used to pacify the beastly guardian of Hades. Myths also describe a ritual which was once enacted. It was believed that participating in the journey of the myth brought transformation, knowledge, wisdom. And myths are metaphors, telling one story to describe another, as characters fall in love, lose, and find each other, the story speaks of desire, grief, hope, suffering. Perhaps most of all, myths are a mystery, their meanings cannot be contained or fully understood, but shift, grow, change with their audience.
I will never get to the end of exploring Eros and Psyche, and this keeps the myth alive and new each time I tell it. I am performing a version which is entwined with Plato’s Symposium. When I had the idea of putting these two classical texts together, I had no idea that the writer Apuleius, who wrote down the earliest version of Eros and Psyche, had studied philosophy in Athens, and that Platonic ideas are embedded in his work! I use The Symposium as a counterpoint to Psyche’s quest, weaving Socratic thought through the performance. I mix facts and fictions about Socrates’s life, evoking Socrates’ humour and questioning mind, asking – ‘what is the path of love?
I will be performing Eros and Psyche at Soho Theatre, October 21 2013, and again in Cambridge on 27 November, with more performances in 2014. Earlier this year there was a wonderful review of my performance in Newcastle, it really made me chuckle – and have a lot to live up to!
“Sally Pomme Clayton captured the imagination of the audience with her fantastic performance …. she was convincing as every single character. A one-man play is hard to pull off at the best of times, but Clayton had the energy and vivacity of a 12 man cast. The Crick Crack Club, and Clayton, offered the audience at Northern Stage storytelling at its very best.”