Legend of the Milky Way



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Perseus and Andromeda – the skit



Preparation:

  • Read through the script and decide how many roles you want to have based on the size of your group (see bolded names for roles you should definitely have; you can always add more sea nymphs, human statues, and mean friends of the ex).

  • Write each role onto a separate post-it note.

  • Arrange the post-it notes so that people can easily read through them and choose one.

  • Important! Be sure to recruit an outgoing person for Perseus – someone willing to ham it up and use lots of props.


Activity:


  1. You will ALL be actors in the epic story of Perseus and Andromeda. Many of the characters in this story appear as constellations in the fall sky.




  1. Acting ability is not required! You do not have to play a role that is age-appropriate for you. Nor one that is gender-appropriate.




  1. Come choose a role. Stick the post-it note to your name tag so we’ll know who’s who.




  1. Gather in a circle. As I read the story, you will listen for your character’s name so you can come to the center of the circle to act out whatever is happening. Exceptions: Medusa and Andromeda keep their head and their clothes on, respectively! If you feel moved to utter a line of dialogue, go for it.




  1. Does your character need a prop? Feel free to use anything within reach as your prop, e.g., moon ball, planisphere, whatever.




  1. Ready? Now I’ll read the script (pause where appropriate to give actors time to do and say things):

[Script taken mostly from: The Glorious Constellations: History and Mythology. G.M. Sesti. 1987.]


Perseus lived on the island of Seriphos. The king of Seriphos had fallen in love with Perseus’ mother and wanted to marry her at all costs, despite her refusal. Perseus was constantly defending his mother from the king’s unwelcome advances. As the presence of Perseus prevented the king from using force, he conceived of a plan to free himself of the young man. The king pretended to love a princess from a faraway land. He gathered his closest friends, including Perseus, and asked each of them to offer a beautiful horse to be donated to the princess’ family. All agreed except for Perseus who, not having possessions of his own, found himself in the embarrassing position of not being able to honor a request of the king. So Perseus told the king that he would accomplish any exploit, even the most arduous, requested of him.
The king had foreseen this and asked Perseus to bring him the head of Medusa. Medusa was a Gorgon, a hybrid of a bird and a woman. She had wings and feet of a raptor and nails of bronze. She had big teeth, a protruding tongue, and hair consisting of tangles of serpents. Her gaze was lethal – anyone who took one glance turned to stone. Defeating such a monster would be an enormous task. Fortunately, Perseus managed to obtain some important items to help him—a magical mirror-shield so he could look at a reflected image of Medusa, a small sharp sickle endowed with special powers, winged sandals for flying, the helmet of Hades to make him invisible, and a magical bag to hold Medusa’s head once it was cut from the body.
Thus equipped, Perseus undertook the long voyage to land of the Hyperboreans where Medusa lived. The closer he got, the more the landscape changed. The green of the plants became marble gray, and the forest seemed petrified by a spell. Then he saw statues of human beings, people with terrified expressions who had been caught in the act of covering their eyes with a raised arm or uttering a scream that would never be heard. They had been turned to stone.
Made invisible by the helmet of Hades, Perseus walked backward toward Medusa so he would see only her reflected image in his mirror-shield. When he was close enough to hear the hissing of the serpents on her head, he gathered his courage, and with one blow of the magical sickle, he cut off Medusa’s head.
To the amazement of Perseus, out of the body of Medusa jumped the winged horse Pegasus.
But Perseus didn’t hang around to contemplate this strange development. He slipped the head into his bag, and flew toward home. On his way, he saw a strange sight: Chained to the rocks by the seashore was a young woman, her body decorated with precious gems – necklaces of pearls and sapphires, bracelets mounted with rubies, and in her black hair, diamonds that shone like the stars in the night. She was Andromeda, the daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia.
Why was Andromeda chained to the rocks on the seashore? It was because of the vanity of her mother, the Queen Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia was a woman of great beauty, who dared to boast that she was so beautiful that she was more beautiful than even the sea nymphs. They complained to their father, Poseidon, the god of the sea. To punish Cassiopeia for her vanity, he sent the huge sea monster (female) Cetus to ravage the shores of the kingdom. In a short time, Cetus had devastated the coast, the harbors, the ships, and the cities of the kingdom with incredible force. Cepheus and Cassiopeia consulted an oracle to find out what to do. The oracle replied that they had to sacrifice their daughter Andromeda, dressed only in her jewelry, to the sea monster.
So there comes Perseus, flying in. He sees Andromeda, who apparently took after her mother in terms of looks. Perseus is immediately enchanted by her, and probably can’t help but notice that the princess isn’t wearing anything except for her jewelry.
Taken by love for Andromeda and moved by her plight, Perseus flies over to Cassiopeia and Cepheus who are waiting nearby and proposes an exchange. He’ll slay the monster and they give him Andromeda’s hand in marriage.
The King and Queen agree (forgetting that, actually, Andromeda had already been promised in marriage to someone else), and Perseus waits for Cetus to appear. The waters of the sea part and the enormous mass of the monster shows itself in all its horror. Perseus yells to Andromeda to shut her eyes, and he yanks out of the magical bag the head of Medusa. Cetus takes one glance in that direction, instantly turns into stone, and sinks.
Perseus and Andromeda are wed in a big celebration, marred only by the presence of Andromeda’s ex-fiancé, who everyone had forgotten about. He and some friends of his [friend of Andromeda’s ex- fiancé] surrounded Perseus, who then asked the legitimate wedding guests to turn their backs for a moment please. Then Perseus whipped out the head of Medusa and turned his enemies into stone. He then put on the winged sandals, took Andromeda in his arms, and flew with her back to his home island of Seriphos.




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