Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Horse of a different language

There's an interesting mental twitch that I get over one of my side projects these days. I'm in the cast of a production of Peter Shaffer's Equus. For those who don't know the plot, it focuses on a boy who gouges out the eyes of six horses and the psychiatrist who's trying to figure out why. It's a somewhat heavy-handed look at belief, materialism, and normalcy. I've been cast as an understudy to the horses (no, we're all the front ends, thanks for not asking). Aside from the brain-eating nature of being in my first play since 1987, the work I've been doing to evoke a horse has been interesting.

I'm not the sort of person who had a major horse fetish growing up. This makes me unusual amongst women of my race, but that's a familiar state for me. I've had my first opportunities to associate with horses thanks to this show, and I really did enjoy it. I'm having to think about a somewhat alien mentality and bring it to life. I'm also doing some spiritual work to find myself a horse to more fully flesh out the character. Shaffer purists would probably find that annoying. The seven of us who are doing the work find it helps us connect more with the show.

What I find keeps coming to me is how "equus" and Epona are so closely related. When the boy calls out to his great horse god-slave, I sense a gender-bend inherent in the situation that perhaps Shaffer didn't see. I feel the cross-connection that led to the Romans adopting Epona from the Gauls as a goddess without attaching her to one of their usual pantheon, the way most Gaulish gods were. This may be why as I work on a character for my horse, she grows more and more Celtic. Irish, to be fair, as I'm very much not in touch with Gaulish Celtic lore. But in my experience, that's how it flies sometimes. The traveler takes the recognizable route. Destination as-yet undetermined, but the ride's been good so far.

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