Gone to hit the highway
March 17, 2003 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Highway Ulysses is a new play premiering at Boston's American Repertory Theatre. Playwright/composer Rinde Eckert and ART artistic director/Sam Shepherd's regular director Robert Woodruff have collaborated on an envigorating new play with music about a Vietnam vet on a road trip to find his son that parallels Homer's Odyssey. The ART's website is similarly informative and engaging as it points out the frightening timeliness of The Odyssey in the current world. (more inside)
posted by pxe2000 (8 comments total)
i chose to post about this not to drum up ticket sales (the show closes this sunday and the number of beantown mefites is probably tiny), but to stimulate discussion about post-9/11 art. this is probably one of the best works of art in any medium that i've seen to address many issues that have been on our minds as a country -- it works very well as both a play and as a political statement, and the character examination never grows didactic. with the world in the state that it's in, what works of art have been inspiring you or mirroring your worldview?
posted by pxe2000 at 10:29 AM on March 17, 2003

A nice piece and no reason to be apologetic. However, in Homer, it is the son who is searching for the father rather than (as you have it) the father searching for the son.
posted by Postroad at 10:51 AM on March 17, 2003

in the immortal words of another famous homer:

or, to be more specific, this one deviates from the text in the sense that ulysses goes on a road trip to save his son from becoming a ward of the state, where in homer's tale telemachus goes to find his father.
posted by pxe2000 at 11:06 AM on March 17, 2003

When you say it's a "play with music," what do you mean exactly--how integral is the music with respect to the overall work? Because if it's anything like the Mackey/Eckert opera Ravenshead, I'm there. Eckert's writing for that showed he had a great sense of humor--high-culture while still being enjoyable and accessible.
posted by Prospero at 11:47 AM on March 17, 2003

it's hard for me to describe how it's a play with music because i haven't seen many plays like this. to define it by what it isn't, it's not a broadway musical and it's not a play with incidential music. there are a few places in which characters sing something that's on their minds but the staging suggests is not something they'd say aloud -- many of ulysses' reveries happen in song because he can't quite bring himself to really say it. however, there are a few points at which characters break into semi-operatic song and it's clear other people are hearing what they're saying. does that make any sense?

side note: the music is performed and was partly composed by the empty house collective, an improvisational music ensemble that counts chris brokaw among its members.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:07 PM on March 17, 2003

Updating the Odyssey with music without being a musical? Sounds familiar.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:15 PM on March 17, 2003

pxe2000: what you describe sounds almost exactly like Ravenshead, except that Ravenshead has music playing through the entire piece (which is what I suppose pushes it into the territory of opera). Most of the words are spoken, but occasionally Eckert (who performed the part of Richard Ravenshead) would burst into song.

Ravenshead has a great story that I won't spoil here--go check it out.
posted by Prospero at 5:53 PM on March 17, 2003

thanks for the tip, prospero -- from what i could tell rinde has a gorgeous voice (he sang alone very little, but his one moment was lovely and appropriate) and i'm definitely going to purchase something of his after seeing the play.

side note: are you in boston?
posted by pxe2000 at 9:31 AM on March 18, 2003

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