Julia Stiles stars in a ‘Persephone’ for all seasons

for The Brooklyn Paper
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What do you get when you combine an ancient Greek myth, a pioneering theater ensemble, two experimental musicians, and a Hollywood movie star? Nothing less than an intoxicating, multimedia play fit for the gods.

Actress Julia Stiles, best known for her recurring role in the “Bourne” trilogy, trades the movies for the stage to join her longtime associates at Ridge Theater for “Persephone,” opening Oct. 26 at the BAM Harvey.

For those who’ve forgotten their Greek mythology, the piece tells the story of Persephone (Stiles), a daughter of Zeus who is stolen by Hades. Though rescued by her mother Demeter, she is forced to remain in the Underworld for six months every year because she had consumed six pomegranate seeds while in Hades’s control.

The Ridge Theater’s adaptation of the myth is based around music, with vocalist Mimi Goese and composer Ben Neill bringing 19th-century compositions, contemporary rock, and electronica together for a mystical, emotional and psychedelic interpretation.

“The word collaborative is really the key,” said Goese, who also plays Demeter. “It’s like we’re so aligned that we finish each other’s sentences.”

For the production, Goese and Neill bring our technologically prone pop and rock back to a more authentic place — which to them means the Romantic period. One way Neill does this through the “mutantrump­et,” his own invention that is inspired by 19th-century innovations. The gadget-infused horn can be played acoustically, but also acts as a remote control, triggering electronic sounds, such as the French horn and trombone.

“It’s a sort of Jules Verne approach to the myth,” said Neill. “We’re using stuff this company might have used back in 1895, but with contemporary materials. It was a very revolutionary time, and we want to capture that.”

The piece also seeks to grasp the Romantic period’s intense interest in the wilderness, using paintings and colors from the period to emphasize this naturalist intrigue.

“The numerous elements have merged to produce an environment that feels very lush,” said Goese. “It’s like a six-foot long, claw-foot bath tub with flower petals and salt bubbles.”

“Persephone” at BAM Harvey [651 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], Oct. 26-30 at 7:30 pm. Tickets $25-$70. For info, visit

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Reader Feedback

julia from buckner says:
i think you look old go back to jail
May 19, 2011, 9:12 am
Chris from East Village says:
I saw this production when it happened. It was really poor actually. Boring is the best word, and it didn't seem to have any focus. The last thing I had seen by Ridge was Everyday Newt Berman at LaMama, and that was one of the brilliant works of theater (and music!) I had ever seen. This somehow just seemed like all visuals and no content somehow. I don't know what would happen to cause them to lose such former genius, but it was disappointing.
Sept. 27, 2013, 7:26 pm

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