Adonis was a Greek hunter who became the center of multiple mystery cults spanning many different cultures. He was a handsome hunter, a prince in some versions, who was the beloved of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. His mother was turned into the myrrh tree, from which he was born nine months later, and he was adopted by the childless queen of the underworld, Persephone. When Aphrodite fell in love with him, Persephone grew despondent, terrified he would leave her. Zeus ruled that Adonis would spend one third of every year with his adopted mother, one third of every year with his lover, and one third of his year as he pleased. One day, while hunting on his own, he was killed by a wild boar. Aphrodite rushed to his side but could not save him, and as he bled out on the grass his blood turned into flowers. Trapped forever between Heaven and Earth, he became a spirit of nature and the god of resurrection, specifically the Earth’s ability to renew itself again and again. His name would go on to become synonymous with handsome young men everywhere, but under other names he was worshiped by the Etruscans, the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, and the Babylonians. His cult eventually spread to Jerusalem where his name became fused with the Hebrew word “Adonai” for “Lord”, or “God” and he is considered by many religion scholars to be the first pan-Mediterranean deity. The offering of myrrh at the birth of Christ is often said to be an allusion to Adonis, who was an early precursor to the King of Jews.

In his play “MATHEW 33:6”, writer Stuart Bousel explores the idea of Adonis as the young man trapped between life and death, and how death and our relationship to it, usually through religion but also science and experience and storytelling, shapes our culture, from its holidays to our day to day relationships. His play follows a few months in the life of a young gay man who is thought to have died and returned from the dead. As he attempts to return to a normal life, his strained family relationships assert themselves while his personal beliefs are challenged and what became a quest for stability becomes a search for identity in a world that no longer believes in God, but needs something and someone to believe in.

ADONIS or MATHEW 33:6 by Stuart Eugene Bousel
Directed by Juliana Lustenader
Staged Reading on October 21, 2017 at the EXIT Theatre

Simone Alexander (Ruth)

Erika Bakse (Judith)

Ittai Geiger (Mathew)

Deborah Murphy (Stage Directions)

Dylan O’Connor (Simon)

Lora Oliver (Claire)

Karl Weiser (Brian)

Stuart Bousel is the founder of the San Francisco Olympians Festival, the Director of New Work Development at Custom Made Theatre Company, the hospitality coordinator for the San Francisco Fringe Festival, and a resident artist at the EXIT Theatre. As a director he has worked with Atmostheatre (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Frogs, Twelfth Night), San Francisco Theater Pub (Measure For Measure, Taming of the Shrew, Richard III, The Morrissey Plays), Wily West Productions (Ruth and the Sea), No Nude Men (Edward II, Hamlet, Love’s Labors Lost, Phaedra, Fishing, Merchants, The Desk Set), and Custom Made Theatre Company (M. Butterfly, The Merchant of Venice, Prelude to a Kiss, The Crucible, Grey Gardens The Musical, Six Degrees of Separation, The House of Yes). He most recently directed the American Premiere of Clive Barker’s Paradise Street at the EXIT Theatre, and Twins will be his first time directing for PianoFight, who previously produced his play Adventures In Tech (With Pillow Talk On The Side). His work as a playwright includes the plays Everybody Here Says Hello! (recipient of the 2014 TBA Award for Outstanding World Premiere, nominated for the BATCCA for Best New Play), Pastorella (nominated for the 2015 TBA Award for Outstanding World Premiere), The Exiled, Gone Dark, Age of Beauty, Polyxena in Orbit, Housebroken, The Edenites, and the stage adaptations of Kristin Hersh’s memoire Rat Girl (nominated for the 2014 TBA Award for Outstanding World Premiere), Peter S. Beagle‘s Giant Bones (which he also directed at the EXIT Theatre), as well as co-authoring the short films Insomnia (winner of the John C. Cosgrove prize in short film) and Wish U Were Here, and dramaturging/re-cutting the libretto for the recent Custom Made Theatre Company production of Chess (in which he also played the role of Walter). You can find out more about his work at


The image of Adonis was created by Cody A. Rishell.