The Odyssey – a theatrical investigation freely based on Homerian motifs
Dramaturgical Concept: Jochen Schölch, Munich
Technical production: Amsterdam ITs: Ellen Tjon A Meeuw
Final direction in Amsterdam: Theu Boermans
Read the full program here.
The project “An Odyssey” is the first coproduction of the Platform European Theatre Academies (PLETA) which has been produced in cooperation with the ITs Festival Amsterdam and the Stichting Jekerstudio Maastricht. It was funded by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Europe by People, the cultural program which framed the Dutch chairmanship of the EU.
All 8 theatre academies from PLETA (Maastricht, Brussels, Helsinki, Warsaw, Riga, Salzburg, Oslo and Münich) presented their own episode from “An Odyssey” on 28, 29 and 30 June 2016. They all related their episode to the current refugee issues in Europe.
In a marathon performance of 3 hours, the audience goes from one location to another, on and around the river “IJ” in Amsterdam. An actual crossing of the water was also part of their journey.
In this theatrical journey, the audience didn’t just meet the styles and methods of the 8 European theatre academies, but they also experienced in a striking way the perspective on and processing of the refugee theme by the students, each with their own social context as a frame of reference.
The students from Riga question the negligible small amount of permitted refugees in their country with a need for new inhabitants after the emigration of many people since the independency. And the students from Austria bring an impressive image and story about the terrible circumstances in which the refugees stay, from bad to worse. The students from Maastricht surprise with a both poetic and gripping scene from the underworld, in which the deceased boat refugees form the “living” décor in a beautiful 3D visualization for the attempt of Odysseus to bring his deceased mother back from the hereafter.
Both a national and an international audience where able to experience this theatrical journey, also attracted by the ITs Festival and Europe by People. It is an unusual and exciting journey which asks not only an open mind but also some hardships from the audience, while the weather was, how very suitable, terrible those days in Amsterdam. There was a lot of rain and wind, which gave the scenes, which took place both inside and outside, an extra dimension both for the performers and the audience.
The responses of the public were positive, both for the total production of the 8 academies as for the way each academy was able to connect the old story with the current refugee issues in their own scene. Although not all scenes were equally balanced, the variety and the confrontation with other methods and views was very valuable.
With the Odyssey project, the PLETA had an inspiring start of its long-term cooperation, in which at least 11 coproductions are planned from 2016-2018. The Odyssey was a dream start, because all academies could meet each other in a public festival, all starting from their own idiom, around a common European theme (the current refugee issues) and starting from a common cultural source (Homerus’ Odyssey). All the more because this was a production which was made and performed by students, in which the professionals had a coaching role. This lead to authentic work and an inspiring exchange of thoughts and experiences.
The contribution that PLETA aims to give to the forming of intercultural competences and to international cooperation for young theatre makers couldn’t have had a better kick-off than this modern version of An Odyssey on the banks of the river IJ in June 2016.
A Dutch review can be read here
Watch the short documentary here.
An Odyssey is
A project of PLETA
Produced in the framework of Europe by People Amsterdam
Co-production with ITs Festival Amsterdam
Supported by Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Creative Europe
With great thanks to Dutch Culture and Stichting Jekerstudio
Coordination: Faculty of Arts Maastricht, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences
Website Its Festival: www.itsfestivalamsterdam.com