I've written about how I remember every performance of the Odyssey.
And that is as true as anything an Odyssean bard might say.
But while I remember bizarre and trivial details of each show and my corresponding travels, sometimes I have to work harder to recall my emotional and mental state around the performances.
And that's where this blog comes in handy. For instance, as I sat down to prepare for a Tuesday morning virtual Odyssey show for students at the University of Iowa I took a minute to read my post about my 3 show Iowa tour in 2019.
It was fascinating because while I can picture the room in which I played in Iowa City, I had forgotten that these were the first shows I did after the burst of writing that produced almost all of what I now perform as The Blues of Achilles, my Iliad retelling.
As is often the case with my creative Classics work, many of my initial instincts about The Blues of Achilles turned out to be spot on. In that Iowa blog post I can feel how I was negotiating this new vein of energy, wrestling with something mysterious I had created, observant of its power and potential but a little wary of what it might mean to my life and career.
Which is frankly still the case even 20 months later. 2020/21 was going to be the school year I went full bore at The Blues of Achilles, capitalizing on the good will, relationships, and reputation I'd built up over hundreds of Odyssey performances to bring it to as many audiences as possible and really do the work of figuring out what I had in it and how it wanted to be performed.
I'm thankfully still able to do that in some respect: half my 20 fall shows are Blues of Achilles material and I'm excited to have that many opportunities to perform and explore the work. I'm also still wary: creating it was a pretty harrowing heart of darkness type journey for me as a writer and I suspect performing it routinely will be as well. The emotions I access for my Odyssey performances shade towards triumph and relief. The emotions I access for The Blues of Achilles consist of the deepest of deep love and somehow deeper grief.
This remote Odyssey Iowa show, while different in venue, was no less satisfying or productive than that February 2019 show. The students and faculty were fantastic and asked great questions about everything from whether I consciously modulate my voice to imply changes in character (I do!) to my use of the Greek phrase οἴνοπα πόντον (the wine dark sea).
After some Odyssey performances early this week, it's 5 Blues of Achilles shows in the back half of October including 4 in 6 days, journeys on a wine dark sea of a different sort. Gonna tie myself to the mast and see what I hear.