Actéon and Glory Denied
Diana, the Goddess of hunting and virginity, will spend the day in the mountain woods, as is her custom. She is accompanied by a group of huntress nymphs, by Juno the wife of her father Zeus and by her protective nymphs Daphné, Hyale and Aréthuse.
A group of young hunters, led by their friend Prince Actéon, are spending the day hunting in the forest. As the day is sunny and hot they stop and Actéon prays to Diana asking for her help to kill the great bear of the mountains.
Diana and her huntresses retreat to a shaded pool deep in the forest. Here they will bathe and rest, hidden from all mortals. Daphné and Hyale are making certain they are all secure until Aréthuse entertains the group by performing a song mocking the so-called delights of love.
Actéon leaves the hunters to rest alone in a patch of shade. He tells them to come back for him at the end of the day. Having found a peaceful place he muses on the freedom he enjoys having never known the sighs of love. He is carried away by this insight and finds himself deep in the forest, far from familiar paths. He sees a glimpse of the bathing huntresses and tries to get a closer look. But he makes a sound and is immediately discovered by the huntresses. Diana does not believe his reassurances of innocence. She sees in him a treacherous mortal, trespassing with evil intent. She punishes him with a splash of water, thereby changing him into a deer.
Actéon is left alone. Overcome by strange sensations he tries to mirror himself in a small pool of water and is horrified to discover his metamorphosis. He tries to call out but finds even his voice is gone.
The hunters’ hounds pick up his scent and upon finding Actéon, now a deer, rip him to pieces. The hunters are jubilant. Finally a catch! They call to Actéon, wanting him to join them in this triumphant moment.
Juno appears, telling the hunters that this is her vengeance upon deceitful men, who are like her faithless husband Zeus. The hunters and the huntresses alike grieve for the cruel fate of Actéon.
Act 1 - Captivity
Colonel Floyd James “Jim” Thompson, “Older Thompson,” America’s longest-held prisoner of war looks back on his years as a captive. He recalls episodes from his nine-year ordeal; escape attempts, torture, and the crippling loneliness of four years in solitary confinement. Through it all he found the strength to survive with memories of his wife and family and his faith in prayer. His life now is as a deeply scarred person. His memories both identify and imprison him. “Younger Thompson“ is living his captivity, clinging to all he has left: letters from his wife Alyce and memories of an idealized past.
“Younger Alyce” is fighting for her survival and that of their family. She tries to keep up her own and her husband’s morale with letters full of tender details, until she receives the news of him being missing in action. From that moment on she lives hanging in mid-air, waiting, left at home with four small children, the youngest of whom was born the day after Jim was shot down. She had to learn how to navigate her own captivity within the army bureaucracy while grappling with the expectations and judgments of society, economic scarcity and loneliness. “Older Alyce” is trying to escape her life of indefinite waiting and helplessness in different ways: by attempting to get the Army to declare her husband dead, by refusing his name to be released, and by building a new family with a veteran named Harold.
Act 2 - Welcome Home
The last P.O.W.s are released and Jim Thompson returns home, to excerpts from the Paris Peace Accords and a letter from President Nixon with caution that “… some things about America may appear to have changed,” this being a flagrant understatement. America was changing at a breakneck pace: race riots, the moon landing, Woodstock, the shooting of anti-war protesters at Kent State, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy all happened within a few months. Long hair and miniskirts became the fashion. The government passed landmark civil rights legislation and created Social Security and Medicare programs that helped millions. But it also concealed and lied about what was actually going on in Indochina. In the midst of this turmoil Jim and Alyce are facing each other and the decision whether to try to reunite as a couple and a family or to part ways. Alyce is honest about her life with Harold and gives Jim the choice. As he tries to get a foothold in a reality he cannot recognize, they both grapple with the fact that neither of them can truly share their painful memories and be free of their past.