Meet the Players — Austin Shakespeare Opens Their 19-20 Season with Homer's "The Odyssey"
Posted on October 2, 2019 by LONG CENTER STAFF
A family-friendly version of the epic poem opens Austin Shakespeare’s 2019-2020 season. Join them for an evening performance October 10 & 11 in the Rollins Studio Theatre. And now, it’s time to meet the players!
“Let us… on your imaginary forces work,” Shakespeare calls on audiences.
That is exactly how an ensemble of six actors will bring the world of Homer’s The Odyssey to the Rollins Studio Theatre—by directly engaging the audience’s imagination. Journey by sea and shore to meet cyclops, Circe, and the bravely clashing swords of the 108 suitors of Queen Penelope as Odysseus finally returns home.
Fortunately, many youngsters are familiar with The Odyssey, since the epic poem is still taught in schools. Austin Shakespeare’s professional actors bring the tales of adventure and heroism to the stage in two daytime performances for school students and two evening performances for adults and families. Join us to explore the hero Odysseus fighting monsters, teaming up with his sailors, and getting help from Athena, Hermes, and even Zeus, himself.
Using creative movement, six actors will row on the purple sea and be swept up in a whirlpool. Sam Grimes is at the helm as the hero Odysseus, having recently enchanted audiences in Austin Shakespeare’s staged reading of Saint Joan at ZACH Theatre. Odysseus’ wife, Queen Penelope, is played by Nancy Eyermann, one of the trio of actors in Pinter’s Old Times at the Rollins. Regan Goins will appear as the contrasting characters of the goddess Athena and sorceress Circe, last seen with the company as Abigail in the reading of The Crucible. Justin Scalise, who has performed in numerous Shakespeare plays, is Zeus, Hermes and the Cyclops. Susan Myburgh returns to Austin Shakes where she provided comic relief in Much Ado About Nothing. Here, she is the charming Calypso. And new to Austin Shakes, Matthew Wagner, a recent graduate of SMU’s acclaimed acting program will play Odysseus’ son Telemachus.
Benjamin Taylor Ridgway’s costume designs are at once modern and evocative of the period. Austin Shakes’ resident lighting designer, Patrick Anthony, and co-designer Emily Scott, create mysterious magical lighting. Fantastic sound effects are designed by Matthew Smith of Concordia University.
Like the epic poem itself, the show ranges from entertaining, even comical, moments to tragic encounter with epic monsters such as Scylla and Charybdis and their whirlpool. As with every performance of an Austin Shakespeare show, Homer’s The Odyssey offers a “talkback” among audience, actors, and the director to discuss the creation of the show and its contemporary connections.
Join us for a dose of joy in your life’s journey as Homer reveals Odysseus’ self-actualization. The hero evolves over the epic journey from a rash and impetuous fighter to become a more thoughtful and careful leader… to fight his ultimate battle at home—combat with 108 suitors.