Southern Oregon University's department of theatre arts will present "Metamorphoses" by Mary Zimmerman, based on 10 mythic tales written by Ovid in 13 BCE.

The play runs at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 22-24, and Thursday through Sunday, May 29-June 1, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 31, at the Theatre Arts' Center Stage Theatre, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Ovid's "Metamorphoses" filled 15 volumes with the creation and history of the world.

"There are several of Ovid's ideas from the 'Metamorphoses' that Zimmerman is most concerned with," said director Dale Luciano, SOU professor of theatre arts, in a press release. "One is the metaphor of transformation and change, the 'metamorphoses' of the title, that ties the stories together." Zimmerman uses water to symbolize the transformations experienced by the mythological characters, and the stories of King Midas, Cupid and Psyche, Orpheus and Eurydice, and others are enacted in a pool of water enveloping the theatre stage.

"There are some complicated challenges that are exciting," said Luciano, "such as working with the large pool of water, 15 actors playing multiple roles, and finding the right emotional tone for the dream-like quality of many scenes."

Luciano said that Zimmerman's play explores what mythology is and what role it plays in contemporary society. "Most of Ovid's stories deal with the power of love, in its many guises, to transform our souls, our bodies and our lives," he said. "Another theme is the idea of 'the soul wandering around in the dark, until it finds love,' whether that love be tragic or divine. That comes close to summarizing what Ovid has in mind about finding love in the world and discovering the 'psyche', what the Greeks called the soul."

"Metamorphoses" earned Zimmerman a Tony Award for "Best Direction of a Play" in 2002. Zimmerman, a professor of performance studies at Northwestern and a former MacArthur fellow, also adapted Homer's "Odyssey" for the stage in 1989. "Metamorphoses" is her first Broadway production. As originally staged, the show was a combination musical, straight play and dance work.

The script took shape when Zimmerman began rehearsing with the actors.

Tickets are $17 regular admission, $14 for seniors and $5 for students. For more information, visit /theatre or call 552-6348.