Interview with Marcus Stevens, Writer of Mythic: ‘when I realized I could make the ancient Greek gods in our own contemporary image, I was hooked.’

In his first interview in the UK about Mythic, Marcus Stevens chats with London Student’s Anthony Walker-Cook about the creative processes behind this critically-acclaimed new piece of musical theatre.

AWC: Where did the idea for Mythic come from?
MS: The honest truth is I wanted to find a project  in the public domain where I wouldn’t need to secure any underlying rights! I’ve always loved mythology of all kinds, so I looked through an old book I had and stumbled upon the story of Persephone. Something about the mother/daughter relationship felt fresh and also timeless. And when I realized I could make the ancient Greek gods in our own contemporary image, I was hooked.

From Disney’s Hercules to the upcoming Hadestown, the Greek and Roman gods have a continuing appeal for the arts… why is that?
Myths are primal. They are created to explain the existence of all kinds of things from the seasons to relationships. They are the oldest stories ever told and yet they are the most human. They also live in a world of high drama which makes them ripe for adaptation.

Marcus Stevens.

More specifically, what is so appealing about the myth of Persephone to you given your other work, Persephone Unplugged?

Persephone Unplugged is actually an earlier title for Mythic. So it’s the same show. It took a while to find the right title!

How does Mythic make the classical gods appeal to a modern audience?
The Gods were known by all the Greeks as if they were celebrities. Their stories were told far and wide. We thought, wouldn’t it be fun if we treated them like modern celebrities? That’s when we had the idea to give them each individual rockstar personalities that are evoked through various styles of music. Hades is like Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day,  Aphrodite is like Britney Spears or Katy Perry, etc. This pulls the Gods right into the 21st century.

What sort of research did you do before writing Mythic?

I read a lot of myths! And I also studied up on Greek plays. How does the chorus function? How do the characters in those plays tell their stories? We used a lot of Ancient Greek drama structure in this show. The chorus addresses us directly, and the Gods have soliloquies that are sung – like ancient Greek Odes.

Michael Mather as Hades in Mythic at the Charing Cross Theatre. Photograph: Marc Brenner

What do you think of the Charing Cross Theatre and why is it a good venue for Mythic?
Working at Charing Cross has been a wonderful experience.  I think the theater is a great venue for the show because it’s got a sort of scrappy but reputable reputation in London. It’s a great place for something up and coming to make a splash.

What has director Sarah O’Gleby brought to your book and lyrics? 
Sarah has found a physical language for the characters that isn’t on the page. The choreography helps to delineate the characters and locations in a way I never would’ve imagined. Also, her vision of how the show looks was so contemporary and hip. It made me look a lot cooler than I am!

If you could summarise Mythic in one word, what would it be?
FUN.

If Mythic is trying to pose one question, what is it? (And what is the answer?)

How do Parents and Children shift their relationships once children grow up? And the answer is… with lots of compromise.

What should audiences expect when they come to see Mythic?
Mythic is a high-energy, fun and funny contemporary tale with great pop/rock songs that happens to be about Greek Gods. Audiences don’t need to know anything about Greek mythology going in. They just have to be ready for a good time.

Mythic is at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 25thNovember, 2018. Thanks to Marcus for taking the time for answering our questions and to Kevin Wilson PR for organising.

Feature photograph: Marc Brenner


Anthony Walker-Cook is a PhD candidate at UCL and is the Theatre editor for London Student. His interests include theatre adaptation, early modern drama, classical myths made modern and all things eighteenth century. For more information please contact: anthony.walker-cook.17@ucl.ac.uk

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