Classical Epic Meets Contemporary Treatment
Odyssey Night resumed its storied place among the ranks of form-related performances, this time with a 21st-century twist.
The students in all five English III sections, under the direction of their wily instructors (Mr. McKeegan and Dr. Kohlhepp), worked together to dramatize selected scenes from Homer's epic. The focus of the night was Books 9-12, in which Odysseus and his men nibble on lotus leaves, escape from the cyclops, dally with Circe, descend into the House of Death, and navigate the treacherous waters between Scylla and Charybdis. The major departure from past incarnations of the event was that these Odysseian voyagers submitted their scene in the form of a short film, having shot footage all over campus the previous week.
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Each scholar appeared in her respective scene and contributed to the overall execution of her class's film, charged with one of four tasks: scriptwriting, costumes and props, videography and editing. According to the members of Dr. Kohlhepp's D period class, who tacked on some cast interviews as a "bonus feature," this year's Odyssey Night project provided a fresh way for them to tackle Homer's epic. "This was really different," observed Logan Bell. "The assignment got us to think about literature in a whole new light."
The event set sail with Kohlhepp's H period Advanced section, who brought us Book 9, set on the fearsome island of the cyclops, played by Austin Hovey and friends. Strong costuming and props, along with a well-designed script, distinguished this group's effort and garnered them the Third Formers' vote for "Best Film." Book 10 featured Kohlhepp's F period section, who used a variety of campus locations and climatological conditions -- Greek epic in the snow! -- to portray Odysseus' windblown travails and escape from Circe, played with pluck by Reilly Kennedy. (A special thanks goes to Professor Anselmi, who cleared out boxes in Senior House, which was magically transformed into Circe's palace.)
"The return of Odyssey Night represents an important step forward, rather than backward, for Berkshire English, since as the students themselves implied, making a film adaptation gives new vigor to this ancient but still vital text," said Evan Clary, English Department Chair.