Patience, Nurturing, and Mercy. All qualities that the Roman God of War had and qualities which his Greek counterpart lacked. The Greeks didn’t really have much affinity for their God of War, since he lacked compassion and was more headstrong and bloodthirsty, rather than thoughtful and protective. Ares ran into the fight, fully on the offense, whereas Mars worked at creating a lasting defense. Ares would be much more likely be covered in the blood of the vanquished, without realizing who the enemy even truly was. Mars was a master of stratagem, planning, and when the objectives were achieved, he could show mercy to the defeated. In fact, Mars first divine calling wasn’t even War, but fertility and agriculture, looking to create rather than destroy, and once the Romans added War to his province, Mars looked to protect his circle, rather than wreak havoc at his whim. There is even a stronger sense of family, as Mars has a truly defined wife,or sister, or daughter depending on the source, Bellona, who comprised more of the actual fury of war rather than just a dalliance with self gratifying affairs like his Greek counterpart, even though he did have a particular affinity for Venus, with whom his affair is seen more poetically in the Roman world where Mars is more overcome with affection and possibly Cupid is not the child of Vulcan, but the love-child of Mars and Venus (so very hippy of them), as opposed to Ares and his filthy adultery with Aphrodite who operates more for conquest, and through the various consorts they both presumably fathered a lot of children. Mars is identified as possibly the father of Romulus and Remus, thereby fathering Rome itself. Ares doesn’t seem to have a Greeculus and Grekus story. Even symbolically in the way the gods are represented in statues and art is different. Ares with his bloody spear and Mars with his spear made of bloodstone (not bloody) and the protective shield of Ancile. With a certain compassion, Mars could connect, and even marry, viewed as second only to Jupiter in the celestial world, rather than a distastefully brutal and cut-off figure.
In John’s project, Mars is now the Secretary of Defense Arnold MARSden has been primarily working as a strategist. And although he has a strike first appearance, shoring up an impressive arsenal he has more interest in a complex working of stratagem — more chess than checkers mentality–preferring to eliminate threats without ever having to resort to violence, except as a show of force. He is a retired General with years of training soldiers with the steadiest and surefast ways to eliminate the enemy, even if the enemy has done nothing, with some prompting to be more vicious from his Lady MacBethian wife, Bellona. He lives in a bleak war-torn world and has reached a point in his life that he has more than tired of war and even the talk of, and tries to shift to a complete diplomatic tact and heal the nation, trying to establish the idea of being protectors rather than destroyers, summoning the 12 protectors (of whom 11 prove to be false), trying desperately spur a renaissance of creation through a love of worldly delights in food and people. Seeking a more peaceful world for the future, Mars adapts his language, but no matter what he says with the intention of peace is interpreted as a hostile act. Even simple pleasantries of ‘Hello, how are you?’ lead to bloody confrontations. The more peaceful he tries to be, the more enraged others become, as he begins to realize he is cursed with a bellicose tongue. He grows more isolated and the entire world is preparing to take him out, forcing him back into warlike ways, until he eliminates everyone in his path and ends up solitary and infused with an angry shattered and bloodied mirror, finally able to settle down and eat the best damn pie of his life.
In a nutshell: While trying to protect the glorious city he loves, he strives for a delicious cuisine and loving relationships to counter a war-torn world. He can kick your ass, and destroy your family, or pleasantly share a taquito.
MARS by John Lennon Harrison
Directed by Sara Judge
Staged Reading on October 6, 2018 at the EXIT Theatre
Janelle Aguirre (Comandante Owl Nerva Anna)
Raisa Donato (Principali Juniper)
John Ferreira (The Sextant Imperium Cesar Jules)
Toni Guidry (Cupid)
Colin Hussey (Mr. Curry)
Sara Judge (Concordia)
Valmina May (Stage Directions)
Leer Relleum (Secret Advisor Arty “Krisith” Quirinus)
Rana Rines (Consul Venus)
Marshall Scott (Perfect Envoy Marsden)
Zoheb Virani (Mashal Magma Ashton)
John Lennon Harrison is boldly looking at the age 50 getting closer and closer, as he explores projects outside of SF as well as within, working in the school systems as the best darn maternity leave coverage for middle school English classes, while still etching out some work in 31 plays in 31 days, attending producer meetings with Dragon Theater for possible future production, with his sequel to Romeo and Juliet (In Verse) Performed in Tennessee and Florida, and his last entry to the Olympians Festival: Thinner Than…Triton. John has performed in well over 100 productions as an actor, clown (yes, he was in a clown family on wife swap), writer, stagehand, set designer, technical director, scene painter, lighting designer, teacher, improv group leader, with an MFA in Acting from NIU and and working some in commercials, film, and industrials as a SAG actor. Currently John is fondly enjoying his 19 cats, avoiding the landlord, and co-facilitating a Restorative Justice pilot class for East Oakland Pride with his wife. He has nine fingers, but no ring of doom.
The image of Mars was created by Christopher Bauman.