Who would have wondered that the Odysseus boat, those in he was homecoming, could be a perfect symbiotic exercise between all the best from two worlds, the Greek and the Spanish world that perfectly represents the Spain environment during Franco’s times also shown in some important masterpieces such as the Picasso’s Guernica? Who could imagine that the Old wise Greek prophet, Tiresias, would spoke a proper Spanish slang and made all audience laugh contagiously with his terms and that Circe, the mythical and certainly legendary sorceress would perform the most spectacular aerial silks show and would dance reggaeton in the XXI century?
A different reality
All that became a reality in a High School play that was recently premiered at Colegio Nueva Granada in Bogotá. The High School Theatre Club, a group in which amateur actors who rather seem more like experienced and talented professional ones, all of them teenagers under 18, achieved to assemble an incredible play with their talent, their passion and a committed and fulfilled work and production for more than 5 months.
Theater performance usually implies a lot of acting work and backstage logistics, much more when it is a great classic such as The Odyssey in which people use to think everything is already said and that the last word is indeed written with a variety of different performances and show options.
These stubborn kids proved to be wrong: that is all what art is all about to make and recreate different, trending and actual proposals and try not to let the classics die.
Although I studied literature and all along my studies obviously I read and studied deeply the different theatrical plays and art movements and I had also studied and analyzed the theaters history all over and over, from Greek theater to the different modern performances and styles.
I must admit that I didn’t had a clue about all what it takes to ensemble and perform a theater play even though when it is a school play but seem to be a professional theatrical play.
All my previous experience was that I acted once in an elementary school play but at that moment the only concern that we, those little actors, seemed to have was to memorize the lines from a script that someone has gave to us and that no one dared to question or to change.
I guess those where different times as Pedro Paramo recalled and that us, the children from that ages still lacked from that initiative and fire that this times children definitely have, they are intellectually active and very proactive in their learning and growth process.
Being the co-director for this group of students was one of the more rewarding experiences in my life as a teacher. It was one of those experiences I can definitely say I fully enjoy and those are big words since I have been a teacher for more that 10 years.
I encountered a totally different but pleasant experience, It´s important to point that they were not just on their own, they were directed by an amazing Colombian renowned actress, director and producer, who has been assembling theater school and youth stunning plays for almost 10 years, Catalina Botero, but the children were the ones who made all the assembly.
Those same students who also acted and that had several rolls since the cast was reduced in number because we are talking about a school in which students have as much as different choices for co-curricular activities as they have learning possibilities.
They were the ones who also set everything, gave different ideas and gave their personal youth signature to the play´s version and also did prop, costume and scenery tasks while they had fun and prepared their selves with a valuable experience for the arts world in which some of them are going to developas a professional after following drama and artistic careers in Ivy League Colleges all around the world.
Postmodern and fun
That was how the students aimed to set a show, in my beliefs without precedent, in which the Greek gods and heroes spoke in English, in a Mexican and Iberian Spanish and also in a Portuguese and a French as melodious as well spoken.
An actual, postmodern and fun version was built but most of all it was a charming version in which all classics objective was fulfilled: the students identified their selves with the story and in this way the story got updated itself.
It was absolutely relevant and actual in a scholar world, where children seem to be drowning in technology, but they aimed to leave their superficial roll for a moment and they immersed in the mythology and in the passion and visceral stories between gods, semi-gods and mortals.
In the play we had a starving Odysseus who fantasized with having some fried chicken and an Hermes who tempted him back with bacon, Helios sacred cows sang a sticky Hip Hop inviting heroes not to drink juice or pops but to drink milk.
Polyphemus was also presented but in this case it was a clumsy and weak Cyclops that slept cuddling with a teddy bear and who complained to his father, Poseidon, who also tended to love the reggeaton, using his mobile phone.
The mermaids, who indeed had a beautiful and mind-bending voices turned to be really annoying when their sound became a siren but an ambulance kind of one.
Calypso the nymph did inspired not just Odysseus but all the public with her spectacular tango dances and the actress who played Penelope aimed to be so versatile and charming that she was an eternal longing widow weeping always for her husband, a shadow from the Hades, a sailor from Odysseus hit crew, a Polyphemus´ goat and also a beautiful mermaid.
All the assembly and completion from The Odyssey were a wonderful and amazing experience, fulfilled with creativity, enthusiasm, young spirit, renewed classicism, joy and positive energy. However the best experience of all was to witness a young group of students embedded in a classic such as The Odyssey, researching, reading different versions and consulting about the fantastic Greek world, proposing new ideas and possible interpretations, adapting the characters as if they have been familiar to the classic´s characters for all their lives but most of all it was lovely to get to see them creating and promoting different artistic creations. It was awesome to see them believing in the arts and playing hands full for them. Definitely they did know how to break a leg!