National Theatre to re-imagine The Odyssey across England

Last Updated on 23 April 2022 by Showcall Editorial Team

Homer’s The Odyssey will be re-imagined by the National Theatre in new shows in Doncaster, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Trowbridge and London

Odyssey National Theatre
Chris Bush, Florence Espeut-Nickless, Jim Fortune, Gabriella Gay, Emily Lim, Lindsay Rodden and Tajinder Singh Hayer

Stories from ancient Greek epic The Odyssey are to be re-imagined with communities in venues across England in a new multi-location production led by the National Theatre.

Staged with local people and professional artists from the five locations, the episodes will be performed in Doncaster, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Trowbridge in Wiltshire in April 2023 and in the National’s Olivier Theatre as a full-scale musical in London in August 2023.

The lead creative team for the project includes Emily Lim, director of Public Acts, the National Theatre’s nationwide initiative to create “extraordinary acts of theatre and community”.

The team also features playwright and lyricist Chris Bush, who will write the final episode and act as dramaturg for the first four episodes in collaboration with playwrights from across the country, and composer Jim Fortune who will compose music for the final episode and write a finale song that will feature across all five episodes.

The four artists writing each of the episodes outside of London, in collaboration with their communities, are Gabriella Gay in Stoke-on-Trent, Tajinder Singh Hayer in Doncaster, Florence Espeut-Nickless in Trowbridge, and Lindsay Rodden in Sunderland.

The episode called “The Lotus Eaters” will be at Restoke in Stoke-on-Trent on 1 and 2 April, “The Cyclops” at Cast in Doncaster on 15 and 16 April, “The Four Winds” at Trowbridge Town Hall on 22 and 23 April and “The Island of the Sun” at The Fire Station for Sunderland Culture in partnership with Sunderland Empire.

The fifth episode, “The Underworld”, will be at the National from 27 to 29 August. This final production will feature community performers from all four nationwide companies as well as members recruited through Public Acts’ founding community partners in London, founding theatre partner Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, and Trybe House Theatre in London.

The Olivier production will feature a total of 140 people including six professional actors, six live musicians and three cameo performance groups from across the UK.

Emily Lim said: “We are so excited to be bringing The Odyssey to life with such an inspiring group of theatre-makers.

“In light of everything that’s happened over the past two years it feels incredibly special, and right, to be coming together from all corners of the country to tell a story about how we heal and move forwards after a period of profound loss and change.

“We hope the project will create an unforgettable gesture of unity, creativity and radical joy which everyone can feel a part of.”

Public Acts is supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Mosawi Foundation and Wates Foundation.

About Mark Ludmon 318 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre, hospitality and drinks after starting in regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is a former panellist for the Olivier Awards. He tweets at @MarkLudmon.