Bulfinch's Mythology

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1850s, Boston. Thomas Bulfinch, famous translator and redactor of Greek and Roman myths, delivers a virulent racist, misogynist, and gloriously homophobic rant that rails against the unspeakable abominations of “the men of the mollyhouses” before Bulfinch himself descends into a labyrinth of his own making. Bulfinch’s Mythology blends poetic text, evocative mime, and enacted myth in a powerful tale of internalized homophobia that invokes all that is lost in translation. 

 

 "Copp offers us psychological snapshots of flawed characters, wrapped in intrigue and mystery. The storytelling was sharp, searing and relentless, supported by sublime and precise direction
by Ric Knowles and the design elements that hinted at its beautifully desolate world.”

- Nina Lee Aquino, Artistic Director, National Arts Centre (English)

Bulfinch’s Mythology is a gripping drama about an historic figure grappling with contradictory impulses and beliefs. Trevor Copp brilliantly brings both characters – Thomas Bulfinch and his young student Matthew – to life in a performance that blends physical storytelling with language that is beautifully written, spoken, and felt. – Karen Fricker, theatre critic, Toronto Star

Notes on the Process by Dramaturge/Director Ric Knowles:

Creating new work is never easy. Creating work in a new, hybrid form
during a global pandemic is even less so. I had worked on movement-
based, physical theatre with Trevor Copp, a skilled mime artist, in the past,
but I had never worked with mime, much less theatre that brought
together mime, densely written text, classical mythology, and historical
biography. So when Trevor approached me about working as dramaturg
and director on Bulfinch’s Mythology, I wasn’t sure where to start. Literally
where to start. It was late summer of 2021, in the middle of the pandemic,
theatres and rehearsal halls were closed, and no-one was congregating
indoors. But Trevor brought a draft of his script and a video of some mime
sequences based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses to my back deck in Guelph,
and we worked there, outdoors, for several weeks refining, rehearsing, and
merging text and movement. At the end of what proved to be an exciting
and challenging process—the cacophony of which alarmed some of my
neighbours enough that they called the police—we presented a rough
early version of the show for feedback from a small, masked, invited,
socially-distanced audience in the chapel of St Paul’s Presbyterian Church
in downtown Hamilton.

The audience’s response was both positive and helpful, so we proceeded
with plans to stage the play at the Hamilton Fringe Festival the following
summer. That, of course, never happened—Covid struck again.
Nevertheless, we made revisions and refinements, hired an outstanding
design and stage management team, and went into a three-week
rehearsal period in the summer of 2021, showing our work to another
small, masked, invited, socially distanced, and antigen-tested audience at
two performances after the first two weeks, before returning to rehearsal
for another intensive week and three final public presentations. The
process—including the time taken for revision and reflection, the
involvement of designers in the development of the work, and the chance
to return to rehearsals after presenting before a select, discerning public
—was exhilarating. And the show itself, I am proud to say, is arresting, well
deserving of the long life and large audience that we intend for it in its
future iterations.

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