Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

Theatrefolk Featured Play – Ariadne’s Thread by Judith White

Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight.  It’s time to bring Greek mythology to life! Ariadne’s Thread, the Adventures of Theseus and the Minotaur by Judith White is a fantastic modern version of Theseus and the Minotaur, complete with an active chorus.

The thread’s on the spool,

The spool’s wound tight,

You must feel it in the dark, cause there is no light…”

Theseus is a young man on an adventure. As he makes his way to Athens to meet his father he must fight bandits, carnivorous pigs, and travel the underworld.

He offers himself as tribute to rid the land of the murderous minotaur. But the story isn’t as simple as it seems. King Minos’ daughter Ariadne is willing to help, but only if Theseus promises not to kill the minotaur. How will Theseus get out of the labyrinth alive?

Why did we publish this play?
There is a reason that Greek myths have survived the test of time. They have great stories and great characters. Ariadne’s Thread is no different.

While telling a story that is as old as time (Theseus meet Minotaur, Minotaur meet Theseus) Judith has crafted a play that is not your every day retelling of this myth. This is a fantastic modern version with a very active Greek Chorus. Do you have a unit on choral speaking? Read this play, now.

Let’s hear from the author!

1. Why did you write this play?
I have been intrigued by Ariadne, the Minotaur, and Theseus since I was a teenager. As I researched the story, finding many different versions of the myth, I found myself thinking about the Minotaur – how he was deserted and alone, and condemned to the depth of the labyrinth. My mind teemed with questions. How would he feel? Who else, among those young actors performing the play, might feel abandoned and alone, deserted by family, bereft of friends? What makes Asterion strike out and kill? And what about his half-sister, Ariadne? And Theseus, his half-brother by Poseidon? I was intrigued and informed by the questions – the human questions – surrounding the myth.

2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
Theseus follows his destiny, listens to an inner voice, and Ariadne, whose powers have deserted her, regains her creativity and her own voice. Together, they transform Asterion, discover his source of anger, and release him to the sea. They all risk going deeper into their emotional selves – as do actors.

3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
I enjoy Theseus trip beneath the sea. Also, the confrontation between Theseus and Asterion, the Minotaur when we learn why the Minotaur is so angry: one child is preferred by his father, Poseidon, and we see the results in the neglected child, Asterion.

4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Work as an ensemble; enjoy creating the chorus and the varied characters, small and large.

5. Why is this play great for student performers?
All the myths have eternal lessons. This one is about emotions, hidden deep in the labyrinth of our souls, which may erupt in negative ways. It also speaks to the transforming power of love – and the hero’s quest, involving great risk, wit, and inner strength. There are parallels in the brother/sister/half-sibling relationships. And the play has humor too, to balance the serious stuff. Lots of juicy characters. (Not just the pigs- the Crommyon Sow. )

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