World Premiere at Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink August 13 – September 5th
Quantum Theatre kicks off its 30th Anniversary season with a live, outdoor performance of Jay Ball’s An Odyssey at the iconic Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink from August 13 to September 5, 2021. All performances begin at 8 PM.
Directed by Jed Allen Harris, An Odyssey is a contemporary treatment of Homer’s classic. Filled with humor, it also pointedly explores the definition of heroism in our present by emphasizing female characters mere footnotes in the original, seeing Odysseus’ actions through their eyes. The project reunites Jed with key members of the imaginative team behind Quantum’s 2016 production of Collaborators.
An Odyssey is Quantum’s 11th collaboration with Citiparks. Its home in the Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink evokes an enormous facsimile of a Greek amphitheater, allowing audiences plenty of room, amazing vistas, and sunsets to provide a natural backdrop for the show. This sense of scale and visual depth is amplified by Narelle Sissons’ imaginative scenic design: an immersive installation employing dozens of sheets and thousands of feet of rope and yarn, largely donated by Quantum audience and community members.
“Jay Ball’s adaptation takes us on a magnificent journey where we go back and forth between the epic and the domestic in his play,” said Sissons. “To achieve this, we have come up with a world of entangled ropes. At first, we see the rope as lines of washing, then later as the laundry disappears and the storm begins, we see ropes of a ship. Finally landing in a bare space only of ropes, we understand the entanglement of Odysseus and Penelope as a larger and more epic symbol of ourselves and our own lives.”
Quantum’s founder and Artistic Director Karla Boos says, “Jay’s adaptation of Homer’s text is contemporary, snappy, and very funny. His work was influenced by Emily Wilson’s recent translation and is thoughtful about what this most ancient story has to say to 21st-century audiences. For example, the Cyclops story looks like the toxic masculinity it is, here, and the women of the piece, especially the young princess Nausicaa, are central. But with Jay’s sly humor, it’s a production that we think will be enjoyable — for classics lovers and novices alike.”
An Odyssey features Scenic Design by Narelle Sissons, Lighting Design by C. Todd Brown, Costume Design by Melinda Eshelman, and Sound Design by Joe Pino. Its cast includes Catherine Gowl, Sam Lothard, Shammen McCune, Nancy McNulty, Erika Strasburg, Grace Vensel, and Sam Turich as Odysseus.
An Odyssey also marks a return to more standard rehearsal and audience experiences, a change from Quantum’s June performance of The Current War. With approval from Actors’ Equity Association and current guidance, the fully vaccinated cast and crew are permitted to rehearse without masks or distancing. Audiences will also not be required to wear masks when attending the play in the expansive outdoor rink. Capacity for the show will be slightly reduced to allow comfortable space between chairs — parties can ‘self-pod’ if they wish.
Pre-show picnicking at the scenic Schenley Park Overlook is encouraged, and dinners from the company’s NearBuy partners will be available. NearBuy is generously supported by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, which matches purchases made by Quantum patrons at associated businesses in food and gift certificates distributed to communities experiencing food insecurity. Over $50,000 has been directed to local businesses to date, and nearly a thousand meals distributed by 412 Food Rescue, Feed the Hood, Wilkinsburg Community Ministry, and River City Eats.
Special events for the show include a Pay What You Can preview on August 11, Community Night preview on August 12, Opening Night reception with the cast and team on August 13, Q&A with the artists following the performance on August 15, pre-show Social Q and Quantum Quaff events on August 18 and 19, and post-show Quantum on the Couch talkback on August 28.
Following An Odyssey, Quantum’s 30th Anniversary Season continues with Lucy Kirkwood’s Olivier Award-winning play Chimerica (November 27 – December 19, 2021) and Plano, by Will Arbery in April 2022. Tickets and more information on An Odyssey at https://www.quantumtheatre.com/anodyssey/
About Quantum Theatre
Now in its 30th season, Quantum Theatre is a company of progressive, professional artists dedicated to producing intimate and sophisticated theatrical experiences in uncommon settings, exploring universal themes of truth, beauty, and human relationships in unexpected ways. Quantum is devoted to eclectic experimentation, staging its works in environmental sites that inspire directors, designers, and performers, and delight audiences. They reflect Pittsburgh’s character, history, and architecture, and are as different from one another as a grand museum, an abandoned industrial site, a modern office tower, a beloved City lake, and a waterless indoor swimming pool. The company is influenced by theater artists working in new ways around the world, often bringing such artists to its Pittsburgh laboratory, where Quantum assembles unusual artistic teams, empowers creativity, and nurtures bold ideas.