The Ancient Greeks had several words for different types of love, among them: Eros – passionate desire; Fillia – friendship; Agape – wider love for fellow human beings and the world. Plato discusses love in The Symposium, using his teacher the hoary old Socrates to convey his ideas. Different voices, viewpoints, myths, definitions are playfully debated, but none of them satisfy Socrates. For Socrates only the pursuit of wisdom is true love. He describes the search for truth as an erotic attraction, a deeply passionate endeavour. Plato, ever the storyteller, gets Socrates to tell of his own teacher, Diotima, (a woman by the way), and her vision of ultimate love – a ladder which can lead to immortality.
My performance brings together the mythical romance of Eros and Psyche and Plato’s Symposium. The myth exists in many cultures across the world. The earliest written version is 2000 years old, written in Latin, by North African philosopher Apuleius. When I had the idea of putting these two classical texts together I had no idea that Apuleius studied philosophy in Athens, and that Platonic ideas are embedded in his work.
In creating this performance I read almost all of Plato’s work and collected jokes and fragments of oral stories still being told in Greece today. I mix facts and fictions about Socrates’s life, and use The Symposium as a counterpoint to Psyche’s quest. It is a complex piece of weaving! It takes a long time for a storytelling performance to ‘bed down’ (as the wonderful storyteller Daniel Morden puts it). Although I created this piece a few years ago, this will only be the tenth time I have performed it, so it’s only just ‘bedding down’! When a performance gets to that stage both freedom and security become possible – and the fun can start. I’m looking forward to getting back into bed with Plato! Do come and join me.
“It was mesmerising, moving and truly uplifting.” Audience member,
Soho Theatre 2013
“Clayton captured the imagination of the audience with her fantastic performance … 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.” Review, Northern Stage, 2013
Eros and Psyche
Tuesday 13 May 2014, 7.30pm
3-7 Delancey Street, Camden
London NW1 7NL
Box office: 020 7383 7808
tickets: The Forge