A public theater project at the Rep presents Homer’s epic poem seattle repertory theatre has produced collaborations with everyone from Lily Tomlin to David Byrne. This month, the theater moves into the public domain, partnering with community-based organizations for a project called Public Works Seattle. Their venture? A musical adaptation of the Greek epic The Odyssey.
“I thought this would be an innovative, new way for us to produce the plays our audiences love, and at the same time create a theater that is also more inclusive and participatory,” says Braden Abraham, the Rep’s artistic director, who was inspired by a similar initiative at New York’s Public Theater.
With a professional team that includes associate artistic director Marya Sea Kaminski, he invited more than 100 members of diverse community groups, such as Jubilee Women’s Center, Path with Art and the Ballard Northwest Senior Center, to help create the production.
The themes of the classic poem—family, adventure and homecoming—remain universal, Kaminski says. When members of the Southwest Boys & Girls Club were asked whether they were familiar with the story, “One girl raised her hand and enthusiastically recounted the entire episode of The Simpsons that parodies it. She was incredibly astute in her plot points and character analysis.”