The Odyssey’s Action-Packed Journey Wows Audience, Garners A Crowd

Photo courtesy of Jade Watson

Under Circe’s gaze, Pallas Athena (played by Rebecca Lilenbaum ’17) glides across the stage during The Odyssey. Athena is the goddess of wisdom and war strategy, and she supports Odysseus on his journey home.

On Friday, December 2, the Paul Mellon Arts Center (PMAC) was packed with eager students, faculty, and family members all in attendance of the long-awaited fall production: Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of The Odyssey.

Every year, freshmen read The Odyssey, the tale of Greek hero Odysseus’s voyage home after helping his allies win the Trojan War. The epic poem includes Odysseus’s encounters with mythical creatures such as sirens, whose beguiling voices lure men to their deaths, and the one-eyed man-eating Cyclops, Polyphemus.

Director Ms. Tracy Ginder-Delventhal said of her choice to produce the play, “I chose The Odyssey because we’re always looking for ways to tie what we do into the larger community. Additionally, I chose it because freshmen read The Odyssey; it was my hope that we could bring in more people.” She went on to elaborate on what the play meant to her: “I think it’s about the central question. Where are we at home? I think that’s a really relevant question for all of us,” she said.

Noah Nyhart ’17, who played Odysseus despite being a newcomer to the stage, commented on this underlying theme of homecoming and the challenges that he had to overcome in order to truly connect to the character. He remarked, “It was pretty hard to relate to Odysseus because he’s so heroic and he thinks he’s above everyone. He’s got this huge ego, and you can see over the whole arc of the show that he’s getting beat up and having false moments of finding home, like through his relationship with Calypso, but in the end, when he’s finally able to reunite with his wife, he is humbled.” According to Nyhart, it was during the last two weeks of rehearsal that everything finally reached a certain unison: “The show came together then, because when you start rehearsing on the PMAC stage, you can feel it. You’ve got the set, you get to see your costumes, and you can really become the show.”

Photo courtesy of Ross Mortensen

Noah Nyhart ’17 as Odysseus in the recent school production of The Odyssey, with Anselm Kizza-Besigye ’17 (left) as Poseidon and Kyle Gelzinis ’17 (right) as a member of Odysseus’s crew.

A distinctive aspect of this show is that it was an ensemble cast, with most actors playing small yet vital roles that helped to piece the show together. Actress Kaitlyn Dutchin ’17, who played Calypso, explained the importance of an ensemble show: “The reason that I really wanted to do this show in the first place is because Mary Zimmerman is known for creating a lot of ensemble. She writes the plays while directing it because she’s all about ensemble casting, and in theater the ensemble is really important because it’s what makes a play a play. It’s what makes theater so special. It’s all about everyone coming together to make the show stronger, and that’s why there are no really big parts — because everyone’s parts are equally important.”

The audience was very receptive to the production. Kevin Shen ’17 said of the production, “I think the music and costumes were really nice,” and Nate White ’20 added, “It was really well done.”

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