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Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

  • 1.  Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 11-29-2021 09:43
    Good morning,

    I have decided to direct Mary Zimmermann's Metamorphoses for my spring high school production.  I just put in a request for rights.  I have a class of 25 actors and will have to put the audience on the stage so that they can be above the pool. I will construct a thrust stage.
    I directed The Odyssey in 2019, so I have a pretty good sense of how to approach the text.  However,  I would love to see any of your set and pool plans, archival photos or videos, and other tips & tricks. 
    Things that give me anxiety: building a pool, dealing with wet costumes, emptying the pool post-show, ensuring actors don't slip on the pool decking. 
    Did any of you use original composition?  If not, what was your source of music?  I know there is an album on iTunes, but was curious about other options as well.

    Thank you in advance!
    Katie Alley

    Katie Alley
    Theatre Teacher

  • 2.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 11-30-2021 05:42
    We did this play many years go. Costumes were simple-a lot of homemade chitons, but I didn't have the the time or money to worry about wet costumes, and my designer concluded that even with only 2 inches of water it would take several hours to drain and fill between performances. (My designer was also an engineer, so he actually did the math.) Since our theatre was also used by the music department and was also impossible to lock easily, keeping people's out (a pool,however shallow, equals a big no from our insurance), we de decided against real water and used blue 4 by 8 plastic packing material from a nearby lumber store, donated, to create our pool, pantomiming where necessary. Worked like a charm. I'll send pics when I find them. 

  • 3.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 11-30-2021 09:25

    When I did this show, we didn't use water.


    I had a orchestra pit in front of my stage, and we built a "pool deck" around the pit, then dressed the sides of the pit walls to look like the sides of a pool- tiles and all.  We put lights in the pit that shined a moving water effect up onto the  walls and the actors faces.


    No water- no mess- it was very effective.


    There was actually a trap door in the pit so that kids could come and go – "disappear" into the pool and not return.


    If you have a pit at your disposal, I'd consider it.  It was a beautiful production.  I'll send photos if you would like.  Hit me back.







    Sent from Mail for Windows


  • 4.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 11-30-2021 11:02

    I've done this show twice, it's fun to work on!  The first time was indoors, in a school that was about to be torn down.  We built a home made pool with the plan to use a flood pump to move the water outside.  Constantly cleaning was a real challenge, and we left minor water damage under the pool - thankfully in a building that was scheduled to be torn down.

    The second time we did it outside, which was fantastic.  I bought a professional pond liner, which made everything MUCH easier, and when it was time to drain we just dropped one wall of the pool and let the water flood out into the grass.  We also held off filling the pool until the week of the show, to keep it fresh and safe for the actors.  Stagnant water with performers moving in and out of it can pose a real health risk.  We also timed it for a warmer season so water temperature wasn't as big of a problem.  I've read about other people using spa chemicals to carefully treat the water, and large water heating elements to keep the temperature up.

    Costumes were planned for items that could get wet and dry overnight.  All of the actors were required to wear a swimsuit underneath, so they could change quickly backstage.

    Richard Fairchild
    Arcadia High School

  • 5.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 11-30-2021 12:00
      |   view attached

    Of 100 shows I've directed, this was my favorite by far. We used 22 actors, and each learned ~8 roles, then three weeks into rehearsal I selected which 1/2 each would perform and which understudy (worked great). Ours was a thrust stage w a raked house, and we angled the pool into a diamond instead of a square (all the better to hide things like the golden jumprope). 23 levels between steps to thrust, up to the pool, and steps to the "god bridge" - so many possibilities. The pool had four levels, so one could lie down without drowning, etc. up to ?18", enough for a petite actor to "sink" into the water as she walked away toward our US curtain cutting off the very US edge of the pool water. The max height of the water had to be visible but low enough to minimize the splashing onto the deck. We filled the pool from our offstage sink, and each night drained about one water tank's worth, that we refilled each time with hot water at the last minute, so it wasn't so arctic.

    The pool was basically four ladders (2x4's) on edge, surrounded by another square of ladders 4' farther out, with a plywood deck between the two squares. We lined it with two plys of plastic sheeting from HomeDepot, and covered the bottom with every bath mat in Target. The water really pins down the sheeting, but we did empty it all once due to a leak (that gave us a chance to run tricky "in-water" scenes and lighting without chilling our actors to the bone). We did struggle with keep the deck from getting slippery, and tried various options, but none I'm ready to recommend. Only one actor ever slipped, fortunately.  

    Emptying the pool wasn't a problem. Three of four kids came up with water pumps and out the water went, through our loading dock door. Those last few inches we dealt with by surrounding the plastic with actors to lift it, and walking it outdoors.

    We rehearsed once at the community pool to test the costumes (and take early production photos)....good plan, cuz some fabrics that looked opaque certainly weren't, when wet! And that rehearsal was a terrific bonding exercise for the cast.  The backstage choreography of costume changes was a miracle of its own, drying actors off and swapping them into their next roles.

    Yes, we had original music. Very abstract. It was wonderful.

    We took 7 CAPPIES awards for this production, including Best Show.  But mostly, it was true labor of love that I still can't talk about without getting a lump in my throat.

    I'm sorry the picture doesn't show you a long shot, but enjoy. And love working on this amazing show!

    Douglas "Chip" Rome
    Theatre Consultant
    Educational Stages
    Burke VA

  • 6.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 12-02-2021 13:46
    We did it without a pool. I couldn't afford it, and we have to rent space from another theatre company, so the build would have been a nightmare. We used fabric and baby pools, and I honestly don't feel like the production lost anything by not having real water. It was fun for us to think of ways to solve the water issue creatively.

    We paid for the rights to the original music that was composed for the show.

    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator
    Shenandoah Valley Governor's School

  • 7.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 12-03-2021 07:00
    I used three "cattle troughs" which were made of plastic and colored blue. We drained and refilled after each performance. They were inexpensive and I was able to sell them afterwards. 
    For costumes I bought a LARGE bolt of 100% polyester fabric and had the kids wear chitons over swimsuits. We then added/changed headpieces for the different characters. 

    Dr. Doug Erwin
    Theatre Instructor/Director
    Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair
    Mock Trial Moderator

    Saint Louis Priory School

    500 South Mason Road

    St. Louis, MO 63141

    Phone: 314.434.3690 


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  • 8.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 12-03-2021 10:18
    Hi Katie.
    I produced Metamorphosis with teens in my summer program in NYC.  It was a big success with both the students and the audience.  The director and I both felt that the pool and the water imagery was an integral part of the story.  While it required some extra safety issues, it was worth it.
    I bought an INTEX above ground pool online.  I wanted a rectangle, but round were cheaper and more available at the time.  If I remember it was 12 or 16 foot diameter and 4 foot deep.
    The pool was an exciting part of the experience for the actors, so I asked the director to block so that every actor had some contact with the water.  Not necessarily in the pool, but at minimum, some contact.  

    We used a blow up smaller pool for rehearsals and only added the actual pool and water in production week.  Since bare feet were required to be in the pool, actors were required to have rubber sandals/flip flops to move about backstage and towels.  We had access to a clothes dryer, so wet costumes weren't a problem between performances.  It did require that some actors had a dry costume for subsequent scenes, but only the bottom since no one was ever fully submersed.  We really rehearsed entrances, exits, and backstage traffic to the point of almost being choreographed to be sure everything was safe and no running or risk of slipping on a wet surface.  The platforms were carpeted to prevent being slippery.

    Since our performances were one weekend, we didn't have to drain the pool between shows.  There's a drain plug that we ran a garden hose to the school janitor closet sink.  We used chlorine in the water, but with the short production schedule, we didn't feel it necessary to use the filter pump that came with the pool.   One hitch was we sprung a pin hole leak overnight before we opened.  Since the pool has a vinyl bottom, the smallest little piece of debris poked through.  In hindsight, we should have placed some sort of liner under the pool.  We also had to use a two step plastic unit for in the rear of the pool for easy and graceful entrance and exit.  No one ever entered over the sides because we felt it could be risky.  We did have to pad and weight the step unit to anchor and prevent damaging the pool floor.  

    Time and budget kept us from putting a facing on the outside of the pool, but that would not be a difficult design element. We just had the greek cornice. I thought I would not like the pool interior, but it actually worked and looked great under colored lighting effects and gobos.  Also would have opted for a larger video screen if we could have afforded it.

    In another production element, we used a lot of projection - still and video -  which you will notice in the photos.  We also created a short "film" for the Hades section.  The whole cast was in it and added an "acting on camera" element, which was also great fun for the students.  It would be a way to expand participation to the audio visual department/class.

    The director picked any music or underscoring.  We didn't use the iTunes or a pre-existing score.

    Hope this is helpful.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.
    Robert Laconi

    We downplayed the incest scene by making it a dance in the pool and blindfolding the father.  It worked without loosing the scene.

    Robert Laconi

  • 9.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 12-04-2021 22:33

    I'm producing the show this spring as well. Perhaps we should start an on line support group. 

    I'm not kidding. I did that last year on FB for High School Theater groups all across America who were producing A KILLER PARTY (a show with lots of film editing challenges) and it was fantastic, the support and resources we were able to offer each other. 

    I"m very curious where people found the original music and obtained rights and was it only available pre-recorded or is it also available as sheet music for a small live ensemble (which is what we are considering). 

    John Monteverde

  • 10.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 12-05-2021 09:46
    Katie - This was a truly special production for us (yes we built a small pool). The students were so engaged creatively because every scene wasn't about "blocking" as much as: how do we use this water to tell this particular story. Some details below and some attached pics. 
    • Yes, we built a pool indoors on our small stage. Just a wood frame that we rehearsed with, then the week of of the show we had a pool insert that with many heavy duty plastic liners. No leaks. Happy to provide more details
    • We paid for the music rights, but also hired a local musician to arrange those songs for a student cellist and student violinist who played live.
    • For costumes, I mean, students were wet! We had many interchangeable extra pieces that extremely soaked students could change into.
    • Each student wore some kind of spandex or liner underneath their costumes. It helped keep them warm. 
    • No one slipped on the pool decking because it was wood and not particularly slippery when wet. Inside the pool were a few non-slip bathroom mats. Outside the pool was a very thin rolled rug liner ontop of plastic. It got soaked, but it was supposed to and wasn't slippery because of the fabric.
    • We used a small pump to get rid of the water and refreshed with new water and chlorinated tabs. Not a fast process, but kept the water safe for the students. 
    • We had a cast of 14
    Hope that helps. I could talk about this show forever so feel free to reach out.

    Nick Hoffa
    Drama Director
    South Pasadena High School

  • 11.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses

    Posted 12-05-2021 10:48
    Thank you all for taking the time to share your Metamorphoses experiences.  I will definitely contact each of you individually over the next couple of weeks.  One more question.  With live music, actors may be hard to hear without mics.  Regular body mics can't get wet.  Have any of you found alternative ways to amplify voices for this show?
    Katie Alley

    Katie Alley
    Theatre Teacher

  • 12.  RE: Zimmermann's Metamorphoses