The goddess Venus was much more to the Romans than her typical attributes—beauty, love, aesthetics. In Roman lore, she is highly venerated as Venus Genetrix, the Venus who birthed Rome. As the classical mother of Aeneas, she is revered as the heavenly ancestor of the city and its people. She was worshipped throughout Rome, under many guises. Venus was particularly attractive to sculptors (Venus de Milo, Capitoline Venus, The Mazarin Venus) and also to groups who wanted to use her image to give an air of authority to their own causes. Venus had many titles, as she was glorified as the universal creative life force in the world (Venus Physica) to a harbinger of success in war (Venus Victrix) to an appreciation of the female form, specifically, shapely butts or women with shaved heads (Venus Kallipygos and Venus Calva).
In Christine’s play inspired by Venus, young women see themselves as potential victims of their own beauty and youth. A serial killer runs amok in their city, and these five women form a group and come up with a plan to protect themselves. They draw inspiration from old stories of Catholic Saints who shaved their heads and mutilated their bodies so that they would not have to marry, and from the many worshipped epithets assigned to the paragon of female beauty – Venus. As the news highlights all the things the serial killer looks for in a victim, the women strive to become the furthest thing from that ideal. The Venusians take themselves further and further from the world which wants to hurt them, and attempt to take back power by destroying what it seems to want from them.
VENUS by Christine Keating
Directed by Alessandro McLaughlin
Staged Reading on October 13, 2018 at the EXIT Theatre
Spencer Evans (Stage Directions)
Amanda Johnston (Lucy)
Alex Mechanic (Maria)
Rebecca Newton (Mollie)
Sidney Spiegel (Cal)
Lauren Yellow (Rosa)
Christine Keating is a writer/director living in Oakland. This is her third year writing for the Olympians Festival (The Sisters Sirene co-written with Amelia Bethel, and Styx.) She has also directed seven plays over three years in the Olympians Festival, and did visual artwork for last year’s festival. She has written for Theatre Pub, Play on Words, Music/Scene, Shotz, Pint-Sized Plays, 365 Women a Year, and has had staged readings at stageRIGHT theatre, Santa Clara University, and Magic Theatre. Her play Witchy will be presented as part of the 2018 San Francisco Fringe Festival. You can look at her face and read some things that came out of her brain at www.KeatingMarie.com.
The image of Venus was created by Terezi Velasco.