Artists, educators, actors, musicians and more will marathon-read the Emily Wilson translation, all 24 books of the epic poem
For more than 25 centuries, the human race has been fascinated with and inspired by The Odyssey. Now Oklahoma Contemporary wants to bring it live into your home.
Oklahoma Contemporary will livestream a six-day, reading series of Emily Wilson’s recent translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, an immediate, accessible and boldly contemporary version of the ancient text.
Working with a diverse group of local and national actors, musicians, artists and public officials, including Wilson herself, Oklahoma Contemporary’s presentation will include all 24 books of the epic poem, broadcast live via Facebook, YouTube and okcontemp.org from 7-9:30 p.m. Aug. 20-22 and 27-29.
Artistic Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis says the time is right for this performance series, which he’s has been considering since 2017, when Wilson’s translation — the first in English by a woman — was published.
Scholars think Homer’s work was composed orally and “intended to be performed before a live audience, rather than read silently,” he says.
“At a time when we’ve canceled travel and confined ourselves to our apartments and houses to slow the spread of a global pandemic, it would seem we might feel more at home than ever,” Davis says. “But the world, and our sense of place within it, has changed. In the wake of the twin crises of racial injustice and COVID-19, with their extreme disruptions to our health, careers and lives, individuals and communities can feel unmoored, lost at sea.”
Some of the scheduled readers, in fact, will stream live from their own homes. Those local to the Oklahoma City metro will read from Oklahoma Contemporary’s Te Ata Theater. The series will include four books a night across six nights, two Thursday-Saturday stints.
With a diverse list of readers that spans North America and a variety of disciplines and industries, Oklahoma Contemporary hopes to draw a nationwide audience for the livestreamed event. Viewers can drop in to watch a favorite actor, artist or personality or follow along book by book each night. Readers include:
- Octavio Abúndez, Guadalajara-based conceptual artist
- Ali Ahn, actress known for Liberal Arts, Supernatural and Louie
- heather atone, senior curator at the First Americans Museum
- Raffi Barsoumian, actor known for The Code, The Vampire Diaries and Shameless
- Bryan Cogman, writer and producer of Game of Thrones
- Bethany Joy Collins, a visual artist whose work has explored The Odyssey
- Peter Coyote, actor (known for E.T. and Erin Brockovich), author and director
- David Holt, Oklahoma City mayor
- Leslie Feist, indie singer-songwriter better known as Feist
- Ken Hada, poet and professor at East Central University
- Joseph Keckler, singer, musician, performing artist and writer
- Muna Malik, L.A.-based multidisciplinary artist
- Rebecca Nagle, Cherokee writer and host of This Land podcast
- Bebe Neuwirth, Emmy-award winning actress (known for Frazier), singer and dancer
- Nikki Nice, Oklahoma City councilwoman
- Nicole Poole, OKC visual and performing artist
- Lee Ranaldo, musician and co-founder of Sonic Youth
- Patrick Riley, founder and publisher of The Lost Ogle
- Robert Ruiz, president of the Scissortail Community Development Corporation
- Kate Soper, composer, performer and writer
- Gloria Torres, executive director of Calle Dos Cinco
- Tom Todoroff, acting coach, actor (known for Star Trek: Voyager) and producer
- Nick Waterhouse, singer, songwriter and record producer
- Emily Wilson, MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow and translator of The Odyssey
The series aims to digitally re-create the experience of listening together to a tale told thousands of times, throughout histories and across continents, to see if we can find ourselves in Odysseus’ voyage to find home. “Flashing and flickering, our screens will be the flames around which we gather to hear the story of this complicated character,” Davis says.
The Odyssey marathon reading is presented in partnership with Kirkpatrick Foundation.
“It’s a thrill for us to help bring Emily Wilson’s masterful translation of The Odyssey to audiences everywhere,” says Louisa McCune, executive director of Kirkpatrick Foundation. “The story of Odysseus is perhaps the most archetypal, iconic journey in all of literature. For those of us who somehow avoided reading The Odyssey in our younger years, now we can experience this Homeric story together, in totality, over the course of two weekends. Now is the time to order your copy so you can follow along!
The specific schedule of readers and additional information about the livestream will soon be online at okcontemp.org/odyssey.