The Tears of Odysseus

Tomorrow I make my debut on the Haligonian stage.

Have you ever heard of a dance marathon?  People gather sponsors for an exuberant, charitable night (or two) of manic movement, and then dance, dance until the dawn comes, or they drop from exhaustion.

Well, I am happily embroiled in a sort of an epic marathon.  Starting tomorrow night at 7 p.m., various groups from around Halifax will be reading Homer's Odyssey continuously for the twenty-four hours that it takes to finish the epic at the rate of a book an hour. 

Each hour a different group takes on the task of reading a single book of the epic. Mine is the one in which the nymph Calypso tells off Zeus (via Hermes) for the divine double-standard that punishes goddesses (but not gods) who want to take mortals as lovers. Nonetheless, Hermes makes her relinquish Odysseus, who goes forth to be buffeted disastrously by an enraged Poseidon until our hero flounders nude and exhausted in the vastness of the ocean.

My Calypso will, I'm sure, be a performance for the ages.

Each group has adopted a name that relates to the events of their book.  The Anglican clergy, for instance, are calling themselves "The Messengers of the Gods."
For us, I suggested "The Tears of Odysseus," since our hero spends all his time (when he isn't in the divinity's bed) weeping on the shore over his lost home and family. That was a bit of a downer, so we settled on "Poseidon's Playthings."
But somewhere along the way - and I want to assert how really unexpected this was - we were renamed "Buck Naked on a Plank."

It was when I got the email from my colleague entitled "We are now Buck Naked on a Plank" that I began to regret inviting all my students to hear me perform.

Leave a Reply