A production of the Odyssey, the epic poem by Homer, was held at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse from October 31st to November 3rd. As people arrived, a reel featuring film of soldiers returning home to their families played on a screen at the rear of the proscenium. According to the director, Kelly Macleod, this was part of the Theater for Change program, and was created by students in Dr. Stacey Berry’s class, the Evolving Stage . The program hopes to show students that art can change lives. It does this by finding real life stories that relate to the production. In the Odyssey, Odysseus is on a long journey home, something that solders, their families, and the general public can all relate with. Donations collected during the production went to the National Military Family Association.
Even for one who has read the Odyssey before, the play was excellent, and it constantly had the audience on the edge of their seats wondering what would happen next. The play kept very close to the original story, and each actor did an excellent job capturing the roles they played. Andy Meyer as Odysseus did a superb job. It was easy become immersed in his story as he told it to King Alcinous (David Verhey). Nikolette Sirawsky as Athena also did an amazing job as she switched roles throughout the production. It was easy to tell when she switched by the subtle changes of her voice and the slight difference in her gait.
However, all cast and crew worked together to efficiently change the minimalist set without interrupting the play. Some cast members had multiple roles. The cast deserve high praise for how well each actor handled the different roles they were given. Elijah Hinsch took on six different roles, though his primary role was Zeus. Not only did he cleverly modify his voice, but he also added the right amount of personality to his facial expressions to really differentiate the roles.
Overall, the play had around 300 people in attendance during its four day run. This, according to Macleod, was about average for most of their productions. She also mentioned that she was surprised and happy that the Sunday matinee had the largest turnout of the weekend.
Macleod plans a more comedic play for spring. Called Brighton Beach Memoirs, it takes place during the early stages of World War 2. Auditions for this play will start in the spring semester.