Until last spring, each of my 300 plus performances to sing about the Odyssey included an odyssey of my own. Some shows took me much farther than others but even local shows required me to leave my home, travel to another space in a different place, perform, and then return to my home.
So I have thought (and written) quite a lot about how the travels of this bard mirror Odysseus' and what they can tell me about the relationship between storytelling, identity, journeys, and homecomings.
The thing is though, for a text synonymous with travel, quite a bit of the Odyssey actually takes place in one location: Ithaca.
To be more precise, most of 14 books (over half of the poem) take place in or around Odysseus' home including the entire second half from book 13 on.
One might say that much of Odysseus' homecoming has less to do with his journey and more to do with his home. (I really wanted to write "less to do with his -coming and more to do with his home" but... alas: phrasing!)
So as I find myself with a slate of fall performances that I'll do from my own home, I'm hoping to use them to explore this other side of the Odyssey, what it means to "be at home."
I believe the experience of performing from my home will help me think about Odysseus' home much in the same way my journeys have shaped my understanding of his journeys.
My first fall performances were for several groups of high school students at Founders Classical Academy in Texas, and as I set up for the first performance I was struck by the logistical differences between road and home performances.
So much of performing on the road for me revolves around the performance space: is it small and intimate where I feel like I can fill the entire room with my voice or is it big and I need to work to bring the audience closer to me and make it feel smaller? Do I have amplification or am I performing full acoustic? Are my lyrics projected correctly? What are the lighting options? This energy and uncertainty fuels my performances.
When I perform from home, I have complete control (or almost complete control) over all of these aspects. They are predictable.They are quiet. I need only get my voice into a microphone and the only space I need to fill is a confined rectangle on a screen. My lyrics are shared next to me on the screen. Everything is calmer. There is no uncertainty.
When I perform on the road there are physical stressors and variables: flights, hotels, strange food, long drives.
Home performances have none of that. I wake up in my bed and prepare like I would any other task for the day. When I'm done, I go downstairs. I know where the bathrooms are.
When I perform on the road I do so with my eyes closed. To stay focused and also to honor the tradition of the blind bard. Another person advances my slides which are projected behind me where I can't see them. I'm left to lose myself completely in the performance.
At home... I perform with my eyes open, making sure that my wifi has not malfunctioned and facing the screen with my lyrics which I advance with a foot pedal.
On the road I can see and feel the audience as I perform and afterwards. I can, most importantly, hear them.
At home on streaming... I sometimes can't even see myself let alone the audience. It's bizarre. It's becoming a different kind of Nobody.
I finished the second performance and took questions using the chat function. It worked well. I imagined that the students laughed at my dumb jokes.
I shut the camera off.
I was (still) home.