Tiamat, goddess of the sea, has two conflicting reputations. To some she is known as a creator goddess; to others she is known as a monster. All agree that Tiamat was one of two gods who existed in the very beginning, when there was no division between and earth, and nothing but waters and mist were in existence. Tiamat gave birth to the first generation of gods by merging her salty seas with the fresh waters of Apsu, and from these children came grandchildren and great grandchildren. They were a wild, boisterous, and noisy family, and drove a very sleep-deprived Apsu to murderous levels of annoyance. When he asked Tiamat to help him kill their offspring so that they might return to their peaceful, quiet life Tiamat was horrified by his plan. She refused to help him so he left her to carry out his filicidal plans alone.
Of course the younger gods learned of their patriarch’s plan and decided to war against Apsu. From them rose Ea, a particularly clever and magical god, as their leader and he eventually single-handedly slayed Apsu.
Many believe that Tiamat was outraged by the death of Apsu and responded by creating an army of dragon monsters to war against his killers, her children. But it is unclear if revenge was in fact the motive. Perhaps she was disgusted by her children, just as she had been by Apsu? Perhaps she felt responsible for what they had become.
Tiamat died when Ea’s son Marduk split her heart into two with his arrow. He dismembered her body to form the sky, land, rivers, and sea. And when Marduk later slew Kingu, Tiamat’s general, he mixed Kingu’s blood with the spit of gods to create humans to work the land and worship the gods.
Stuart Bousel uses writing about Tiamat as a chance to homage a beloved 1980’s cartoon, DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, in which Tiamat appeared as a five-headed dragon. In a satirical romp through five consciousness, he poses the question: are five heads better than one?
TIAMAT by Stuart Bousel
Directed by Genevieve Perdue
Staged Reading on October 12, 2017 at the EXIT Theatre
Alsa Bruno (The Young Ones)
Matt Gunnison (Dungeon Master/Venger/God)
Sunil Patel (Green)
Fred Pitts (Blue)
Kelly Rinehart (Red)
Janice Rumschlag (Uni)
Karl Schackne (Black)
Marissa Skudlarek (Stage Directions)
Vicki Victoria (White)
Stuart Bousel is the founder of the San Francisco Olympians Festival, the Director of New Work Development at Custom Made Theatre Company, the hospitality coordinator for the San Francisco Fringe Festival, and a resident artist at the EXIT Theatre. As a director he has worked with Atmostheatre (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Frogs, Twelfth Night), San Francisco Theater Pub (Measure For Measure, Taming of the Shrew, Richard III, The Morrissey Plays), Wily West Productions (Ruth and the Sea), No Nude Men (Edward II, Hamlet, Love’s Labors Lost, Phaedra, Fishing, Merchants, The Desk Set), and Custom Made Theatre Company (M. Butterfly, The Merchant of Venice, Prelude to a Kiss, The Crucible, Grey Gardens The Musical, Six Degrees of Separation, The House of Yes). He most recently directed the American Premiere of Clive Barker’s Paradise Street at the EXIT Theatre, and Twins will be his first time directing for PianoFight, who previously produced his play Adventures In Tech (With Pillow Talk On The Side). His work as a playwright includes the plays Everybody Here Says Hello! (recipient of the 2014 TBA Award for Outstanding World Premiere, nominated for the BATCCA for Best New Play), Pastorella (nominated for the 2015 TBA Award for Outstanding World Premiere), The Exiled, Gone Dark, Age of Beauty, Polyxena in Orbit, Housebroken, The Edenites, and the stage adaptations of Kristin Hersh’s memoire Rat Girl(nominated for the 2014 TBA Award for Outstanding World Premiere), Peter S. Beagle‘s Giant Bones(which he also directed at the EXIT Theatre), as well as co-authoring the short films Insomnia (winner of the John C. Cosgrove prize in short film) and Wish U Were Here, and dramaturging/re-cutting the libretto for the recent Custom Made Theatre Company production of Chess (in which he also played the role of Walter). You can find out more about his work at www.stuartbousel.com.
The image of Tiamat was created by Emily C. Martin.