What Does the Pool Mean?

During our guest speaker last Friday I was actually contemplating how I would respond to Greg Taubman’s main question. Therefore, my question for this blog post is what does the pool in the set of Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses mean?


Evidently, as Greg pointed out, there is not just one answer to a question like this. It does ultimately come down to what the viewer sees, what it makes them feel, what it reminds them of, and why. Greg’s biggest evidence of this process in terms of theater and literature was his own experience directing the play Metamorphoses. He said that he was told from the start that they were not going to be able to include the pool like the original play did. Therefore, he needed to assess what exactly the pool meant to him when he was reading and viewing this play and how he could incorporate this meaning in a different way in his own production of this play.


I spent a lot of time during Greg’s presentation actually trying to think of a legitimate and sensible explanation as to the inclusion of the pool. So here it is:


During the first scene of Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses the opening scene depicts a woman kneeling by a pool and talking to a scientist about the origins of our earth: “WOMAN. […] The sea upon which they shone quickened with fish, and the woods and meadows with game, and the air with twittering birds. Each order of creature settling in to itself. ZEUS. A paradise, it would seem, except one thing was lacking: words” (Zimmerman Scene 1, Act 1). This quote make reference to a time before human existed and infiltrated the described paradise. Continuing off this, it is important to understand that Greek mythology originated in ancient Greece and served the purpose of explaining everything. For example, Greek mythology explains religion, religious rituals, and even thinks like the weather. Ultimately, it gives meaning and purpose to the world that we live in. After considering this opening scene and taking into consideration my own knowledge of Greek mythology I came to my conclusion. The pool is the physical embodiment and reference to the very beginning of Earth before mankind existed. Therefore, combined with the fact that Zimmerman is recreating these Greek myths I feel like her purpose is to explore how mankind came to be and show the relationship between what existed before man and how we exist now.

3 thoughts on “What Does the Pool Mean?

  1. I also found Greg’s question very interesting and in the moment I could not comprehend what the significance of having a pool on stage would be in telling the stories of Greek myths. Now that you have asked this question again, and I read your post, I began to really analyze the significance of the pool. I found your argument very compelling. I agree that the beginning of the play has a lot to do with the significance of the set. Specifically in the very beginning, the woman was sitting by the water, commenting on the origins of earth. Water is a significant piece in the science and explanation of the origins of our world and by having literal water in front of the audience, it makes this reference to the origins even stronger.

    However, I found a few other possible reasons behind the use of the swimming pool on stage. Greg spoke a lot about transformations throughout the play. For example, he mentioned the transformation of a world of order coming from a world of chaos in the origins of the earth. Water happens to be a great resource to symbolize transformations as it morphs and moves or has a lack of movement depending on the situation. Not only that, but if we continue to look at the properties of water to search for meaning behind its prominence on stage, we can notice that water has reflective properties much like this play is reflecting the myths from ancient Greece that were told many years ago. Throughout all our readings so far for this class, water has been a present theme, but has had many different symbolisms. The function of water in each story changes much like the function changes from myth to myth, but it remains a central theme and therefore it makes sense why it is the center of the stage.

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