Scenography : The Odyssey

The Odyssey recounts the return home of the mythical hero Ulysses, who, after the Trojan War in which he had an essential role, takes ten years to return to his island of Ithaca, to find his son Télémarque and his faithful Penelope wife, he will deliver pretenders on his return. During his sea voyage, tortured by the vengeance of the god Poseidon, Ulysses meets many mythological characters, such as the nymph Calypso, Princess Nausicaa, the Cyclops, the magician Circe and sirens. The epic also contains some episodes like the construction of the Trojan horse and the fall of the city. The Odyssey contains twenty-four songs, and can be divided into three main parts: Telemachy (songs I-IV), Stories of Ulysses (songs V-XII) and Vengeance of Ulysses (songs XIII-XXIV) .

When reading the Odyssey, the logic of the tale was imposed, reflecting a discontinuous narration recounting the adventures of Ulysses since his departure from the Ilha for the Trojan War and his years of wandering before his return. We have chosen not to treat the chapter on Telemachus or the chapter of return to Ithaca for the sake of convenience and narrative. Indeed, the chapter of Ulysses’ journeys is a part of history that is quite important enough to be the subject of a performance. Moreover, it is the most popular mythological part and it is especially the one that interests us to treat. Wandering is the main theme in this theatrical journey in which a man loses his bearings and finds himself turning in circles in a cold, sterile, manufactured universe in which he runs in this infernal cycle of time.

We also made the choice to think of an adaptation that would not staging the gods or monsters to avoid any grotesque character. This is why the choice is based on a minimalist and minimalistic scenographic representation that plays on suggestion and symbolism.

The space conceived is inspired by the Mobile Circular Theater of Grenoble. It is a circular space of 24m2 in a square of 30m2 in the center of which a circular platform serves as a space for the public who is invited to remain standing during the show. It is an active experience, the spectator is free to move and to have a field of vision very broadened compared to the usual representations. Indeed, it has a scene open to 360 ° in which the different scenes are played through the different spaces. The audience arrives through the entrance which becomes the first stage and settles in the center. The theatrical space designed can be assembled and disassembled, like a circus tent, so it can be installed outdoors.
The actors also have various backstage and scene access from the backstage around the circular structure.screen shot 2019-01-05 at 16.16.33

The scene is a continuity of an evolutionary space by the principle of monoliths and the gradient color change from the first to the last scene. The scene is made in a circular shape, like a globe, Ulysses moves on the water with a small boat to go from island to island, adventure to adventure. Thus the scenes go from purple to blue, from temptation to monsters until liberation. Purple is the starting color because it is also associated with magic and the supernatural as well as meditation and solitude. Blue is a color closely related to dreams, wisdom and serenity. Blue is the echo of life, travel and discoveries literally and figuratively. Indeed, the only scenes that stand out by their cloudy bottom have a saving character to the hero either to return to calm or linked to his solitude. Water is one of the central elements of this scenography because it is he who marks the border between the stage and the public while bringing all its symbolic value. In addition, Ulysses will be required to borrow the water passage several times during the performance. In addition, the scenes preserve a unity also by the progressive presence of monoliths which punctuate the scenic landscape and are the minimalist indicators of the presence of the earth. They are made of polystyrene. The piece is thus composed of 12 scenes also recognized under the name of the 12 stages of Ulysses in literature. The actors move on a wooden boat along the water circle and stop each time on a stage being their new destination. The appearance is dreamlike. The whole decor is made by inspiring a minimalist concept while maintaining an aesthetic appearance in terms of colors.

More precisely, the scenographic device goes hand in hand with the choice of theatrical space. Indeed we have chosen a scenography in the image of the endless wandering of Ulysses who does not see the end. Literally, the scene will not allow him to see the end of his journey, he remains in a kind of stagnation and an eternal expectation of the moment when his feet can finally touch the holy land of Ithaca. With a circular scene, we finally create a cycle effect and loops. Ulysses will not cross this circle as a simple passage, he will be led to find shortcuts and to go through stages of travel that will not be linear.

The illustrations are vectorized from the technical drawings. Monoliths are the elements that contribute to the creation of unity and continuity. The illustrations are aligned following the order of the adventures of Ulysses.

The scene thus presents a continuous scenery giving the impression of a landscape built with a panoramic vision. The chosen style is uncluttered to highlight the exegetic inventions of the piece and allow a better visual understanding of the scenes.

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Find here the French presentation of the project!

Find here the Storyboard of the process of the project!