The Crown of Ariadne

By R. Murray Schafer


The fifth work of R. Murray Schafer’s ambitious Patria Cycle, titled “Patria V: The Crown of Ariadne”, is centered around the Greek myth of Theseus, who journeys into the labyrinth to destroy the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne and her red thread. Presented as a set of thematic dances for solo harpist with percussion, Schafer’s graphic composition implies an elaborate choreography of gestures, costume, and production effects. This original interpretation amplifies the inherent queerness of the myth, exploring how the creation and subsequent destruction of the “monster” is a dark metaphor for sexual desire, lust for power, and fear of the other. Masks are used to offer a symbolic differentiation between characters while concealing a sinister thought: who is the real monster? In this way, it is not only Ariadne at the harp, but Theseus, the Minotaur, Pasiphae, and many others, their collective hands pulling at the strings and drawing out the notes of a song that is repeated throughout the cosmogonic cycle. 

—Melissa Achten