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A new interpretation of the Ceres and Proserpina myth

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This week’s guest post comes from Hannah Morrish, an actor and screenwriter who has among other things played a number of roles in Shakespeare’s classical plays, about her latest project. 

Ceres is a short film, currently in development, that tells the story of a daughter seeking refuge from her abusive relationship at the home of her estranged mother. It follows their attempt to reconnect, and move forward, before the daughter’s inevitable decision to return to what she knows. But now with earth underneath her fingernails.

The film is a modern retelling of the myth of Ceres and Proserpina, a film about mothers, daughters, regrowth, and the complexities of abuse.

I grew attached to the myth while working on it as an actor at the RSC, at a time when I found myself having frequent conversations with friends and colleagues about their experiences with coercive-controlling relationships.

Ceres uses the roots of the myth to look at the everyday shadows of emotional abuse, the far-reaching effects it has on those close to the victim, and the near-impossibility of extricating oneself from its hold.

Set in modern-day suburban Norfolk, this fifteen-minute film is about the subtle psychological movements that can often only take place in safe female spaces.

This section of Ted Hughes’ translation of the Proserpina myth is the essence of the film:

From this day, Proserpina,

The goddess who shares both kingdoms, divides her year

Between her husband in hell, among spectres,

And her mother on earth, among flowers.

Her nature, too, is divided. One moment

Gloomy as hell’s king, but the next

Bright as the sun’s mass, bursting through clouds.

The Rape of Proserpina, Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes

The film will be directed by Amelia Sears and the parts of Ceres and Proserpina will be played by Juliet Stevenson and myself respectively. Due to the subject matter of the film, we aim to assemble an all female, trans, and non-binary crew for the shoot.

Ceres aims to shed light on the nuances and complexities of emotional abuse, the scars left on women that can’t be seen, and the female connections that help to bring women back to themselves.

We are currently in the fundraising stages of production with one week to go to reach our goal. If this film and the subject matter resonate with you, and you felt like supporting in any way, or indeed sharing with others, you can find more information on Kickstarter.

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