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Aphroditus: A Musical

APHRODITUS: A MUSICAL is a genderqueer one-act rock opera by Steph Bennion, which looks at gender identity in modern society compared to older traditions. Songs and a script have been developed for a show around 50-60 minutes running time. APHRODITUS has been written with fringe performances in mind.

Demo versions of songs (with iffy singing) are available on Soundcloud (private link).

"...She is the Moon and that men sacrifice to her in women’s dress, women in men’s, because she is held to be both male and female...”

Thanks for reading! If you're interested in staging this show, contact details are here... Steph.

Picture of Steph Aphroditus

APHRODITUS: A MUSICAL

APHRODITUS is a genderqueer one-act rock opera, which looks at gender identity in modern society compared to those of pre-Christian traditions. Songs and a script have been developed for a show around 50-60 minutes running time, to be performed by a single central actor/singer - the character "Quiltbag" - backed by a rock band. APHRODITUS has been written with fringe performances in mind.

The concept is that Quiltbag's band is in Cyprus to shoot a music video. The setting is the ruins of ancient Amathus, in the ruined temple of Aphroditus (a dual-gendered version of Aphrodite, later known as Hermaphroditus). Between songs, monologues consider gender politics and how Quiltbag, who identifies as non-binary, personally see themselves fitting into the modern western world.

SONGS

Demo recordings for all songs are available on Soundcloud (private link). Apologies for my attempt at singing!

SYNOPSIS

Our hero Quiltbag is in Limassol, Cyprus with their rock band to shoot a music video. Taunted for coming out as non-binary to a band member on whom they have a crush, Quiltbag retreats into in the ancient ruins of Amathus to seek solace (“Look At Me Now”). They consider the hurtful things people say and the witty retorts that come to mind too late (“I Am Rubber, You Are Glue”). They are consoled that their crush did not laugh along with the others. Quiltbag yearns for affection and starts to think they may have found their soulmate (“It Might Be You”).

Quiltbag thinks about the expectations of others and the reality of conventional relationships (“No More Lies). As the sun sets, they realise they are in the ruined Temple of Aphroditus. Quiltbag recalls Ovid’s story of Hermaphroditus and how the ancient poet made the male god a victim, the female nymph the villain (“Song Of Salmakis”). They believe Ovid had the story wrong, just as beliefs were twisted over the ages to support the patriarchy. Quiltbag blames religion for creating an unwelcoming world for transgender people, when in the past they were represented in the pantheon of gods (“When The World Belonged To All”).

Quiltbag is feeling alone and very sorry for themselves, but begins to accept the situation (“Forgotten Yesterdays”). They decide that belief is not necessarily bad, but organised monotheistic religions with male godheads are to blame for the ostracisation of LGBT people. Seeking salvation, they plead for answers from the ancient gods they hope still haunt the ruined temple (“Bended Knees”). They reject the notion that the old religions were akin to worshipping demons. The spirit of Aphroditus appears before Quiltbag (“King Of Queens”).

Quiltbag senses the unashamed pride of the old dual-gendered god. They decide it is not much to ask to claim their own place in life (“This Is My World”). They realise that things will not change until society recognises that non-binary people exist and are not going away. If religion still preaches damnation, they accept that challenge (“Dancing At The Gates Of Hell”). As the object of their desire approaches, Quiltbag proudly declares their genderqueer existence to the world. (“Look At Me Now (Reprise)”).

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“There’s also a statue of Venus on Cyprus, that’s bearded, shaped and dressed like a woman, with sceptre and male genitals, and they conceive her as both male and female. Aristophanes calls her Aphroditus, and Laevius says: ‘Worshiping then the nurturing god Venus, whether she is male or female, just as the Moon is a nurturing goddess.’ In his ‘Atthis’, Philochorus too states that she is the Moon and that men sacrifice to her in women’s dress, women in men’s, because she is held to be both male and female.”

[Macrobius (c. 400s CE), Saturnalia 3.8.2]

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STAGE SET

A single stage setting is used throughout, representing an outside scene amid the remains of an Ancient Greek temple, part of the ruins of Amathus in Cyprus. This can be achieved by a suitable backdrop and props of broken stone pillars either side of the stage. Lighting or projection effects would change the setting from dusk (scene 1) through a moonlit night (scenes 2-3) to dawn (scene 4).

The overall concept is that Quiltbag’s rock band is there to shoot a music video. The stage set and backdrop therefore would include video and band stage equipment. A cauldron and ingredients are required for scene 3.

Quiltbag is the only performer singing and speaking. Ideally, the rock band will be on stage for real to perform the numbers: minimum requirements are electric guitar, keyboards or piano, bass guitar and drums. Many songs include choir and orchestration sounds, which on the demo recordings were created by a synthesiser. The show could be performed as a solo show with recorded backing tracks.

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All content (c) Steph Bennion, WyrdStar and Danse Macabre 2007-2021.

Top of Page Page last updated: 16 October 2021