Sailing Our Own Odyssey, through the Arts
[imgbelt img=pember-odyssey-splash530.jpg]Double Edge Theater’s staging of The Odyssey in Western Massachusetts inspires rural leaders to dream big and, in the spirit of Native peoples, bring art’s magic back home.
I was in Northwestern Massachusetts to attend a conference about the importance of arts and culture in rural America. When I was informed that we would also be attending the Double Edge Theater’s production of The Odyssey, I gotta admit I had some trouble seeing how Greek mythology fit in with expanding the awareness and support of art and culture in rural areas. Soon, however, I saw the genius of combining the two, especially for American Indians, a drama for the way we view our relationship with art, culture and the world.
In doing some brief research about Homer, I find that many scholars think his original poem was created in an oral tradition, intended to be performed and heard rather than read. Like the ancient poet, Native folks approach art and culture as something to be lived, an experiential process inseparable from life.
The sustaining element of creativity in my life was embodied by the tale of Odysseus and his journey home. I was reminded how Homer’s epic spurred my dream and drawings and ignited my great secret goal of becoming a writer.
The wild acrobatic doings and immersive stage settings of Double Edge’s Odyssey nearly rivaled my childhood imaginings of Odysseus’ travels. My inner child squealed to see the Cyclops perched in a tree, bathed in lurid light while devouring Odysseus’ men.
As I walked the grounds of the Theater on that summer evening, I was reminded of how essential wild, unbounded creativity and art are to our lives.