New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) students presented four public performances of The Odyssey to packed audiences at Manarat Al Saadiyat this weekend. The show was an original adaptation of the epic poem by Homer, which tells of the love story between Odysseus and his wife Penelope, their faithful son Telemachus, and their reunion against all odds. The Hellenic myth presents themes of love and hope as it recounts Odysseus’ journey home after the war of Troy — throughout which he encounters strange mystics, magical sirens, one-eyed monsters, and visions of war and devastation.
Fourteen student actors and 16 student musicians and crew members brought this story to life with the support of NYUAD Associate Professor of Theater Rubén Polendo and members of Theater Mitu, his professional theater company. Polendo's innovative adaptation of the story used present-day storytellers who seamlessly manifested into the main characters of the story. Utilizing Theater Mitu's Whole Theater methodology, the production incorporated a range of global performance traditions, including elements of Japanese anime, Indian Kathakali, Japanese kabuki, butoh, Chinese object puppets, Greek bard tradition, and percussion, as well as an original music score.
“We have taken this immense story that has been told in a million different ways and have made it our own by creating an experience that is authentic to our student performers. They act as storytellers who use everyday objects as a tool to transform their surroundings to an ancient and mythical time and place,” Polendo explained.