Fortuna was the Roman goddess or fortune and the personification of luck. She could bring both good and bad fortunate, and did so at her whim. She came to represent the capriciousness of life constantly turning fortune towards or away from people. Because of this, her symbols were the globe and the wheel. Interestingly, she survived as a divine figure well into the Middle Ages. Some argued that she was a servant of God because her seemingly fickle whims of good or bad fortune were actually part of God’s divine plan. Even after she was no longer seen as divine in the Western world, she continues to endure as a figure in the popular imagination.

Of his play about her, Neil Higgins writes, “While some believed that Fortuna was an agent of God, Saint Augustine spoke out strongly against her, insisting that she was a pagan concept and could not be a servant of God as she does not bring good fortune to the just and punishment to the wicked. This play is a conversation between Saint Augustine and Fortuna, exploring the cyclical nature of culture, empire, and human history.”

Bridgette Dutta Portman has always been fascinated by the question of free will vs. fate. Is everything predetermined? Can anything truly be random? Can fate be changed? In FORTUNA, or WHEEL OF FORTUNA, Fortuna is the host of the most popular gameshow in ancient Rome, but she finds it unbearable boring — she already knows the outcome of every spin of the wheel. When the tedium finally gets to her and she calls it quits in the middle of a game, the slighted contestants must convince her to continue and let them live out their fortunes. In the process, they argue over whether free will is an illusion, whether the future can be changed, and whether the universe is probabilistic or deterministic. Will the game continue? Who will win the grand prize? How can we find meaning in a meaningless universe? At least two of these questions will be answered.

FORTUNA I by Neil Higgins
Directed by Megan Briggs
Staged Reading on October 20, 2017 at the EXIT Theatre

David Boyll (Augustinius)

Rebecca Hodges (Stage Directions)

Kate McGrath (Fortuna)

Neil Higgins is an actor, writer, director, and mythology enthusiast who has been doing theatre in SF for a little over ten years. He has been a part of the Olympians Festival every year. He has also worked with Left Coast Theatre Company, Custom Made Theatre, PianogFight, Thunderbird Theatre, SF Theater Pub, Performers Under Stress, SF Playwright’s Center, and Playwrights Foundation.

FORTUNA II, or WHEEL OF FORTUNA by Bridgette Dutta Portman
Directed by Megan Briggs
Staged Reading on October 20, 2017 at the EXIT Theatre

David Boyll (Marcus Anonymus)

Amy Cook (Stage Directions)

Rebecca Hodges (Assistant)

Sam Heft-Luthy (Nero)

Kate Jones (Fortuna)

Kate McGrath (Cleopatra)

Bridgette Dutta Portman is thrilled to be returning for her sixth year as a writer for the SF Olympians Festival. Her ten-minute play CYMOPOLEIA, or WAVE-WALKER, which she wrote for the 2015 festival, was produced by Pear Theatre in Mountain View in May 2016. Her full-length play CAENEUS AND POSEIDON, originally written as a one-act for the 2012 festival, will be produced March 10-April 2, 2017 as part of the 2nd Stages program at Dragon Theatre in Redwood City. Bridgette is currently president of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco and a member of the Pear Writers’ Guild. She was a finalist for the 2015 Theatre Bay Area ATLAS program TITAN award and is pursuing an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University. You can find more information about Bridgette and her plays at


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