The malleable myth of Dis is one of imbalanced love. When he and his brothers, Jupiter and Neptune, divided the world’s domains, Dis was banished to the underworld—without love or companionship. On his way to his new home, he spied Proserpina and became obsessed with her. The story goes that he abducted her to become his bride. But when her mother Ceres became enraged, Dis had to return her. But in mythology, as in life, there is a catch: Proserpina had eaten pomegranate seeds during this time. The consumption of this modest meal would force her to stay in the underworld, but Ceres will have none of it. The compromise that the gods struck was that Proserpina must spend one month with Dis for each seed she has eaten. There is a rub, however: Different versions of the story do not agree on whether she ate four seeds or six seeds. What if this ambiguity about seeds and months was not a function of ancient documents disagreeing, but of Proserpina having stronger feelings for Dis than she could admit to Ceres? What does Dis do for the six (or eight) months while he waits for his beloved to return to him? Can Dis ever make it up to Proserpina for having kidnapped her? Was it a kidnapping?
Ceres has found her daughter Proserpina and is negotiating her release from the underworld. Dis, the original hard-luck god, is distraught. He has lost the world of the living. He has lost the company of other gods. He only sees human beings at their worst—dead. But he has found love. Yet it is about to be taken from him. My play would examine this negotiation, examining Dis’ unhealthy obsession with Proserpina, but also bringing daylight to her true feelings for him. Was it really six seeds? Why does the number keep going up? Is true love possible even in the underworld? Tune in for this bargaining session with one lovelorn older god, one impetuous maiden, and a deeply disapproving mother to find out.
DIS or ETERNAL HELLFIRE by Maury Zeff
Directed by Sophia Mia Dipaola
Staged Reading on October 18, 2018 at the EXIT Theatre
Zoe Chien (Proserpina)
Bruce Reif (Sisyphus)
Kelly Rinehart (Ceres)
Jacob Soss (Narrator)
Karl Wieser (Dis)
Maury Zeff is a playwright and director. As a PlayGround company member, he has received two Emerging Playwright Awards, four People’s Choice Awards, and a Directing Apprenticeship. He has directed for PlayGround and in the Berkeley Repertory Theatre Lab. His plays and fiction have been performed and published around the country. He is a San Francisco Writers Grotto Fellow, has an MFA from the University of San Francisco, and comes from a family in which Scrabble is a blood sport. Maury is currently working on a commissioned play, Not So Famous Seamus, a parody of the 1980’s British pop music scene, celebrity philanthropy, and the Cold War.