Pittsburgh Quarterly – Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Myth?

By August 31, 2021 Uncategorized

In all the productions I’ve attended over the past several decades, I’ve never seen a playwright attack the play he was adapting in the program notes. Jay Ball writes that when director Jed Allen Harris asked him to collaborate on a production of Homer’s eighth century BCE epic poem “The Odyssey” for Quantum Theatre, he replied, “I wasn’t buying it. I wasn’t buying Odysseus. I said so, in no uncertain terms.” In elaborating why, Ball explains, “I consulted the major translations — all of which happen to be written by well-educated white men like me. Their consensus seems to be that this ancient story’s central character — a serial liar, cheat, thief and killer — serves as a master surrogate for the human condition. He is a hero, overcoming the challenges of life.” Ball ultimately concludes that the Odyssey “has a cracked moral foundation.”

Stuart Sheppard, Pittsburgh Quarterly

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