The Real Story
Narrator: Everyone knows about the Greek Gods, right? There's Zeus, the king of the Gods, and his wife Hera. There's Poseidon and Hades. And Athena, Aphrodite [(Says Aphrodite's name dreamily)]
Narrator: and Apollo too. But when people are asked of the other Gods, no one else really comes to mind. Wait…What other ones are there?
[down stage left, 3 muses appear. The Narrator doesn't notice them.]
Muse 1: You've got to be kidding me! [aside]
Narrator: Now…the goddess in particular we are looking at….uh...um... Persephone [says it 3 times until he gets it right.]
Muse 2:He's going to mess up the whole story. [says aside to Muse 1 and 3]
Narrator: I just learned of her to day. Persephone was the goddess of spring and the Queen of the Underworld. Well that's not fun. Let's talk about a different goddess! Aphro-
Muse 2: Hey! You! Narrator with the attitude problem! Why don't you show some respect towards the Gods; her story is better that Aphrodite's anyway. Not only that, you're talking to kids here.
[The three goddesses go over to the narrator]
Muse 1: Yeah! These kids are too young for Aphrodite anyway. And you were told to tell the story of Persephone. Tell it right!
Muse 3: Ladies, I have a better idea. Thank you for trying, but we can take it from here. We are the Muses, the tellers of gods and heroes. We have been telling these stories for centuries.
[Narrator nods his head and exists stage right]
Muse 2: So, we know how to do it right. [Looking at stage right where the Narrator has exited.]
Muse 3: Excuse me, I was talking. And you're too old for that nonsense anyway. Persephone is the daughter of Zeus, the king of the gods and the god of thunder, and Demeter, the goddess of harvest and crops. She was every parents dream.
Muse 1: You are going to make them sleep. You want us to show you guys what she was like? [Waits two seconds] Well, we're going to show you anyway.
[Blackout. The scene opens to a meadow, a young girl sitting on the grass and her mother. The muses are standing on the side watching the scene]
Young Persephone: Mother, look a flower! [Gives her the flower]
Demeter: Yes it is a flower. Thank you, it's very pretty.
Young Persephone: I love spring. It's so pretty, flowers everywhere.
Demeter: I'm glad you like it. One day, you'll be the reason for spring to come.
Young Persephone: Then I shall make it spring all the time! Never winter. [Giggles innocently.]
[Spot light goes on the muses. Light dims on Demeter and Young Persephone, they are still interacting (pantomiming. No talking.)]
Muse 3:Young Persephone was a delight to everyone she met. As she grew alongside her innocence grew unmistakable beauty. And that beauty caught the attention of Hades, the God of the Underworld.
Muse 2: Yeah, he was really interested in her.
Muse 1: Okay, if that's what you girls want to call it, I won't say anything.
[Blackout. Scene change to the Underworld. Spotlight only on Hades. Hades is sitting on his thrown.]
Hades: Death, death everywhere and not a bit of life. I'm so bored of this. I like my peace, quiet and seldom as much as the next guy but this is madness. Not that I'd want to be in Olympus, but someone Alive would be nice! But no all I have is a dumb three headed dog and a bunch of dead people. What am I supposed to do with them? Make them dance the Hula? The dead have nothing to say, if they speak clearly at all. And the dog does nothing but sleep anymore. Never let your brother choose your job. [Shakes his head] Let's see what's going on with the living.
[Get's off his thrown and goes to downstage right. There is a fountain looking object, he picks up a bag that is on the rim and takes a small hand full of dirt and drops it into the fountain.]
[Spotlights come up on the other side of stage showing an older Persephone. A young woman, instead of the little girl.]
Persephone:What shall I do today? [smiles. Picks a pedal off of the daisy she has in her hands.] Athena and Aphrodite are busy. Mother is working. I'm by myself today with so many things to do. Hmm…Wildflowers! I can go pick wildflowers. That's always fun. [she runs off stage and exits. Blackout on her side.]
Hades: [Absentminded smile] Wow….She's beautiful… [Smile turns into a smirk.] Go ahead pick your wildflowers for now. You won't be seeing them for much longer if I have anything to say about it. [He walks off stage confidently.]
[The muses come down center stage.]
Muse 3:Hades was awestruck at the beautiful Persephone.
Muse 2: No. He thought she was hotter than fire.
Muse 1: Oh please, both of you are wrong. Think about this a little. If love at first sight existed, this would be it.
Muse 2: Oh my gosh! You're so right! He so loves her. Is that why he went to Zeus?
Muse 1: [Nods]
Muse 3: Would you two stop? I'm trying to tell the- [Muse 1 and Muse 2 push Muse 3 off stage.] Hey! What are you- Stop!
[Muse 1 and 2 come back with smiles on their faces]
Muse 1: Okay. So, Hades went to Zeus to get Persephone. [Both Muses leave. Blackout. Scene change to Olympus.]
[Zeus is on stage sitting on his throne contemplating vengeance.]
Hades: Zeusy! I'm home. [(Try and imitate 'I Love Lucy' here.) Hades comes on stage, from stage right, with his usual confident air.]
Zeus: Hades…What do you want? You never come up unless you have to.
Hades: Is that anyway to treat you're brother?
Zeus: For you it is. You've never given me a reason otherwise.
Hades: Fine. We'll play it you're way. The sooner I'm out of here the better. I want Persephone. I never ask you for anything. This is the only thing I'm going to ever ask you for.
Zeus: I'm too busy to argue with you. I'm not in the mood either. You can have her.
Hades: You have my gratitude brother. Farwell. [Leaves with an excited smile on his face.]
[Blackout. Muse 1 and Muse 2 come out.]
Muse 1: Zeus, Zeus, Zeus….That man is going in over his head soon enough. He should have consulted Demeter.
Muse 2:He's so foolish. Or does he not care?
Muse 1: Maybe both. We might want to get back to our story.
Muse 2: Right. So while Persephone was picking wildflowers, Hades took her.
Muse 1: He skipped the whole courting ritual and threw her over his shoulder and took her down to the underworld.
[Scene change to the underworld.]
Persephone: Let me go! What do you want with me?!
[Hades lets her go but pins her against the wall.]
Hades: I just want you. [Looks her up and down] That dress is too bright. You're changing.
Persephone: No. You don't own me. I'm free to do whatever I please.
Hades: Here's update for you. I OWN YOU! I asked Zeus for you and he gave you to me. I didn't even have to ask twice.
Persephone: [spits in his face and tries to leave] No one owns me!
Hades: [laughing] Are you certain of that?
Persephone: [remains silent as she heads to the stairs that would lead her out to the river that separates the world of the dead from the world of the living]
Hades: Wait [grabs her arm] I won't let you leave.
Persephone: You can't keep me here!
Hades: And that's where you're wrong, my sweet, I can hold you here forever. You're mine.
Persephone: [tries to wrench out of his grasp]
Hades: Why don't you sing, like you do to those flowers? Surely, I'm worth more than a flower? [lets her arm go]
Persephone: [changing tactics] Please, let me go. Have some compassion. I can't stay here.
Hades: Compassion?! You think Zeus had compassion when he sent me to rule over the dead?
Persephone: Is that what this is about?
Hades: [with venom] No, my dear, that's not what this is about at all. I want you to stay with me. But you're right, no one can own you. So I'll give you a choice.
[waves an arm indicating all the blood red pomegranates that hang from the twisted trees of the underworld]
Hades: If you eat but one of the fruit of the dead, you must stay here with me forever. If you don't, you may leave. That is your choice. [smirks] Choose wisely. [starts to leave]
Persephone: Wait! How long do I have to stay away from the fruit?
[But Hades is already gone]
[Persephone looks around at the underworld with growing apprehension]
[Blackout. Muse 1 and Muse 2 come down center stage.]
Muse 2:Guess Hades met his match. Wait what happened with Demeter?
Muse 1: What do you mean?
Muse 2: What happened when Demeter could not find Persephone? I've only her half of the story.
Muse 1: Uh-oh…
Muse 2: What?
Muse 1: I don't know what happened with Demeter either….
[Muse 3 comes on stage with a glare.]
Muse 3: You two! How dare you two lock me up and take over! I can't believe you. You two never think.
Muse 1: If we stay still maybe she won't notice we're here.
[Muse 1 and Muse 2 pretend to be invisible. They stand still and do not look at Muse 3]
Muse 3: I can see you two. [Waves her hands in front of their faces.]
Muse 2: I believe she's talking to us. [She points between her and Muse 1 on 'us'.]
Muse 3: Of course I'm talking to you two. I can't believe you did that! Hopefully you didn't mess everything up.
Muse 1: Oh stop your whining. You were getting boring. Stop acting like mom. If you want to tell the story get on with it. We're not going to stop you.
Muse 3: [Glares.] If you think you're so smart, why don't you do it?
Muse 1: Because you priss, you never bothered to tell us the whole story. You only told us about Persephone and Hades. [Glares.]
Muse 3: Then get off the get off the stage and let me tell the story.
Muse 1: Have it you're way. [Muse 1 leaves]
Muse 2: Now you did it. Oh may Mighty Zeus show mercy on you. Now she's in a fit. [Muse 2 exits stage left.] We'll be back! [comes from off stage]
Muse 3: Sisters. [Shakes her head.] Nothing but trouble. Especially when you have to work with them. [Takes a deep breath and lets it out.] Back to the legend. When Demeter could not find her daughter, she was distraught. She refused to harvest and let all of the plants die. She basically caused the first ice age. She came to Eleusis disguised as an old woman. The king and queen took her in unknowingly and she became the nanny to the young infant prince.
[Pantomimed the actions in background while Muse 3 is talking.]
Muse 3: One night the queen curiously followed Demeter when she was putting the prince to bed. [Moves into the shadows. Center stage lights up.]
[Demeter is holding the baby over a fire. Queen comes in, see Demeter and freaks out.]
Queen: What are you doing?! Are you trying to kill him?! [Quickly snatches baby away.] Who do you think you are?!
Demeter: [Reveals herself] Demeter. And I was about to make him immortal. The fire was burning his mortality away. Since you took him away before the ritual was complete, he will never be immortal. You're lucky you didn't kill him, you fool! [Demeter shakes her head and exits.]
[Blackout. Kingdom is moved off stage now. There is no use for it anymore.]
[Muse 1 and Muse 2 come on stage.]
Muse 2: Okay, we have some good news and some bad news.
Muse 1: The bad news is our sister's a little busy to finish the story for you and she has left you all with a cliffhanger.
Muse 2: The good news is we did our research while we were backstage and found out the rest of the legend, and we're going to tell you guys!
Muse 1: So, Demeter continued the search for Persephone.
Muse 2: In her efforts to find her daughter, she came across Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft.
[Muse fades as the background lights up, showing the action]
[Demeter walks into a room full of herbs hanging from the ceiling, and books, papers, quills, inks, maps, and charts fill shelves and cover the lone table and chair in the room, as well as litter the floor]
Demeter: [yelling] Hecate! Where are you?
Hecate: [walks in] Stop your yelling, I'm right here. What is it now?
Demeter: Where is my daughter? Where is Persephone?
Hecate: She's missing
Demeter: Yes. Where have you been? I've searched the whole world by now and you don't even realize she's missing?!
Hecate: [tiredly] I've been here; I'm always here.
Demeter: You're no help. [turns to leave]
Hecate: [puts a hand on her shoulder] There's plenty I can see from this room, my dear.
Demeter: [turns back] [says slowly, carefully] So you know where my daughter is?
Hecate: [turns to the fire, stares]
Demeter: [growing impatient] Well?
Hecate: [startled] Well what?
Demeter: [angrily] You said you saw what happened to my daughter.
Hecate: [laughs] No, how could I see anything? I never leave this room! But you know who sees everything? The sun. Helios. Perhaps you could ask him why Hades wanted your daughter.
[Demeter doesn't hear this last bit; she is already gone]
[Muse 1 and Muse 2 come on stage.]
Muse 1: Demeter headed straight for Helios to get some straight answers.
Muse 2: Well after the confusing mess Hecate said wouldn't you want straight answers?
Muse 1: Yeah, I guess I would.
[Blackout. Scene change.]
[Demeter storms in to see Helios. Helios sits on a chariot, waiting for morning when he has to ride across the sky. Everything is bright orange around him, lit by his glow]
Demeter: Helios! What happened to my daughter?
Helios: I don't know.
Demeter: Liar! You see everything from the sky. What happened to Persephone? Who are you protecting?
Helios: [sighs] You're not going to like it.
Demeter: Tell me.
Helios: [quickly] Zeus let Hades take Persephone to be his wife. [cringes]
Demeter: [exploding with anger] What?!
[Muse 1 and Muse 2 come on stage.]
Muse 2: So Demeter went to thunder god.
Muse 1: [rolls eyes and shakes her head] She went to Zeus, determined to get her daughter back.
[Scene change to Olympus]
Demeter: [marches in on Zeus on his throne]
Zeus: Ah! Beloved sister, what is it I can do for you?
Demeter: [smiling, with every semblance of real happiness] Can't I visit my own brother without you getting suspicious?
Zeus: [laughing] Not you Demeter, the only time you visit me is if you want something.
Demeter: [slowly getting angry] You know what I want, Zeus, I want my daughter back!
Zeus: What do you mean? What's wrong?
Demeter: What's wrong?! What's wrong is you giving away our daughter! To Hades of all people.
Zeus: Demeter, he asked.
Demeter: And now I'm asking for her back.
Zeus: I'm not getting involved.
Demeter: You are involved! This is all your fault.
Zeus: You're overreacting.
Zeus: Yes. Depriving the world of life, Demeter, come on. It's cold, there's no food. People are dying.
Demeter: It'll stay like that until I get her back.
Zeus: The humans will hate us! We won't get sacrifices anymore, what about all those beautiful temples they built for me. What about all those beautiful girls in those beautiful temples!
Demeter: [glares, says nothing]
Zeus: Fine! Alright. I'll talk to Hades! If Persephone didn't eat anything, I can get her back. [gets up]
Muse 1: Back in the Underworld, Hades and Persephone were actually getting along better.
Muse 2: [Nods] Much better.
[Blackout. Scene change to Underworld.]
[Persephone is watching Hades and notices his care with the dead, how he looks over every aspect of their lives before deciding if they belong in paradise or torment]
Persephone: [talking to a pomegranate] Look at him. He looks so sad. It's not fair he got stuck here…all alone. [thinks for a moment, and then carefully slices the pomegranate open and eats the seeds]
Hades: [walks up to her, notices the pomegranate with some of the seeds missing] [shocked] You ate it?
Persephone: [gets up and walks to him] What kind of life have you known, stuck down here, with only the dead for company?
Hades: It's been—[Persephone kisses him]
Persephone: [looks up at him.] You don't have to be alone anymore.
Hades: What about your mother, or Zeus?
Persephone: They don't own me.
Muse 2: Weren't expecting that one were you? We weren't really much either.
Muse 1: Well isn't this a fine kettle of fish.
Muse 2: What does fish have to do with this?
Muse 1: Never mind, forget I said it.
Muse 2: Okay!
Muse 1: So, Zeus went the underworld to talk to Hades and Persephone.
Muse 2: Talk? Zeus doesn't know how to talk. He only knows how to yell and lecture and then yell more. He only has two dynamics loud and louder.
Muse 1: That's only when he's talking to us.
[Blackout. Scene change to underworld. Zeus and Hades on stage.]
Zeus: You have to let her go Hades. If you really love her let her go home. What should it matter to you, Aphrodite and I can get you any woman you want. Just let her go.
Hades: You're too late Zeusy.
Zeus: How many times have I told you never to call me that?! Wait, what do you mean it's too late? What did you do?
Hades: I didn't do anything. She did it on her own accord. Talk to her. [Starts to leave, but then stops.] One more thing, I'm not going to let her go. [Leaves off stage right.]
Zeus: [Sighs.] This is a problem.
[Persephone enters stage left.]
Persephone: I see you've been talking to Hades. [giggles.] I'm guessing he told you I'm not going anywhere.
Zeus: [looks at her.] Do you want to go home?
Persephone: I like it here. As much of a stubborn, pain in the butt, Hades is, I love him. He's a good man. And I like being with him. I miss my mom, but I like being here and being with him. I'm not little anymore. And even if I wanted to go back, I'm kind of stuck down here. I can't go back.
Zeus: Why can't you?
Persephone: I ate the fruit.
Zeus: Do you want to see you mother?
Zeus: Maybe we can make an accord between the two of them.
[Both exit stage right. Blackout.]
[Muse 1 and Muse 2 enter in the darkness.]
Muse 1: Helios! A little light please. You've been so good about it so far. Why mess up now?
[Lights come on.]
Helios: Sorry. I was talking to Thalia, the muse of comedy. She has the best stories. I had Hermes to fill in for me while I was gone, but he had to run a message between Hades and Persephone.
Muse 1: I see they're at it again.
Muse 2: So who do you guys think she's going to be with? [To the audience] Let's see then. Hey you, Chatty Cathy's, break it up, make a date, then you guys can talk all night. But right now, we have to get going.
[Muse 1 and Helios share a guilty smile and blackout. Scene change to underworld. Lights come on. Persephone and Zeus are sitting watching Demeter and Hates argue.]
Demeter: [yelling] She is my daughter and I will take her back!
Hades: [yelling as well] She ate the fruit! Even if I didn't want her, she's stuck down here!
Demeter: You cannot have my daughter! I forbid it!
[Persephone opens her mouth to speak, but Hades starts talking again]
Hades: You don't own her!
Demeter: Neither do you!
Hades: I didn't say I did! It was her choice to stay here, right Persephone? [turns to Persephone] You ate the fruit because you love me, didn't you?
[Persephone opens her mouth to answer but yet again is cut off, this time by her mother]
Demeter: Don't bring her into this! You took her down here! And you! [she rounds on Zeus] You let him! What kind of father lets the King of the Underworld take his daughter?!
[Zeus tries to answer, but Demeter rants on]
Demeter: An irresponsible one, I'll tell you! I didn't allow any of this. I am taking my daughter back this instant!
Hades: [slightly calmer] Demeter, you don't get it, she ate the fruit she's stuck down here.
Demeter: It's a fruit! I make thousands of those every year! What does one she ate down here matter?!
Hades: It's a fruit from the Underworld, she ate it, she's stuck, it's the rule. Right, Zeus?
[Zeus tries to answer, cut off by Demeter]
Demeter: [to Hades] Don't go asking him anything! He's the one who told you it was alright to kidnap my daughter!
Zeus: [fed up, throws a lightning bolt in between Demeter and Hades] [stands up] Enough! Yes, I gave Hades permission to take Persephone as his wife, and no, I didn't even think about you Demeter when I did, but regardless, there are other factors at work here. First, Hades is in love with Persephone and Persephone with him.
[Demeter tries to speak up, but it silenced by a wave of Zeus's hand]
Zeus: No, listen to me. Even if that were not so, Persephone ate the fruit of the dead, and therefore belongs here in the Underworld. She is staying, Demeter.
Demeter: [begging] No, please, Zeus, you can't let her stay down here.
Zeus: [continuing from before] Unless of course an agreement can be reached. [looks between Hades and Demeter] Do not expect Persephone to choose between the two of you.
Hades: [sighs, walks to Persephone and takes her hands in his, pulling her up] She didn't eat all of the fruit…
Demeter: [seizes the idea] And so she isn't completely bound here then!
Hades: [shakes his head, then turns back to Persephone] What do you think?
Persephone: [looks between the two of them] I cannot choose between the two people I love most.
[Zeus coughs theatrically]
Persephone: [turns to Zeus with a questioning look, who shrugs and nods back toward Hades] [Persephone goes on] I won't pick just one of the two I love to spend my - [Zeus coughs again, louder] [Persephone whirls on him] You have an idea?
Zeus: [Innocent look on his face] No, no, carry on.
Persephone: Since I only ate a few of the seeds, I am not bound here completely, though since I did eat some of the seeds, I cannot leave here forever, either. That works fine for me. I was thinking that I would spend a few months here, with my husband, and the rest of the year with you, Mama.
Demeter: I suppose, if I makes you happy to stay here with him, I won't force you to come with me. Not for the whole year, anyway.
Hades: I can't expect you to stay away from your mother, not if you are not bound here. This is how it has to be.
[Demeter, Persephone, and Hades embrace, but Hades feels awkward and breaks away]
Persephone: I love you both so much. [Hugs Demeter tighter] I really did miss you, Mama.
Zeus: [coughs again, even louder and more theatrically]
[Everyone looks at him]
Zeus: [Keeps coughing]
Persephone: [Finally] What's wrong?
Zeus: [Stops coughing] Nothing.
Demeter: [sighs] Your irresponsible father wants a hug, dear.
[Persephone goes to hug him]
Zeus: [to Persephone] Ah, thank you, dear. But why was it you felt you had to choose between them, what about me? Truly your life can't be about only those two.
Demeter: That's enough Zeus. [yanks Persephone away]
Zeus: I'm her father, why wasn't I an option?
Demeter: Don't even get me started, honey.
Zeus: I am just as capable of taking care of her as either of you!
Demeter: Oh come on now! Don't fool yourself.
Zeus: I got this whole thing fixed, just like I said.
Demeter: You're the whole reason this things started!
[fades to black on them bickering, while Hades and Persephone roll eyes and happily embrace]
[ Lights come up to show Muse 1 and Muse 2 on beach chairs. Happily interacting. They notice the audience has come back to them and smile.]
Muse 1: Well there you have it. Persephone lived with Hades for a third of the year, and with Demeter for the other two-thirds of the year.
Muse 2: But that doesn't mean she is away from Hades much though. Hermes always sends messages between them.
Muse 1: Or Persephone goes down under and surprises him. But they're always in contact even to this day.
[Muse 1 sees Muse 3 with Zeus off stage and gestures to Muse 2. They both look scared.]
Muse 1: Well I'm glad you all know the real story, but we have to go. Like now!
Muse 2: Bye!
[Muse 2 and Muse 1 get their chairs and run off stage.]
[Muse 3 and Zeus come on stage have not noticed Muse 2 and Muse 1 have left.]
Muse 3: Now it's time to have some justice! Pay back time!
[Muse 3 and Zeus have noticed Muse 1 and Muse 2 have left.]
Muse 3: Wait…where'd they go?!
Zeus: I think they left.
Muse 3: Ah man!