by Aditi Deokar
May 18, 2019
On May 10th, 2019, I attended a performance of black odyssey, a play that runs from April 25th, 2019 to May 19th, 2019 in Central Square Theater. According to Central Square Theater’s website, “black odyssey melds together Greek mythology, African-American oral history and music in this visionary new take on Homer’s classic tale.”¹ It certainly accomplishes this mission through the contemporary themes that it melds with the themes in the Odyssey.
Ulysses Lincoln, an orphan in the streets of Boston, leaves to join the military in order to gain money for his new family. On the way, he kills a young one-eyed boy named Poly’famous who just happens to be the son of the sea god Paw Sidin. As Paw Sidin begins to win the great godly chess game that will determine Ulysses’s future, Ulysses is carried by the ocean through space and time and must meet his ancestors and learn his history so that he can accept the crime he has committed. Along the way, he meets characters such as Tiresius, Circe, and Calypso with an African-American and rap twist, and learns about African-American history. He comes home to a family still suffering that same discrimination through the prejudiced criminal justice system.
The story is easy to relate to with its casual raps about Boston that hide a much larger message. Even after Ulysses is reunited with his family, there is much more progress to be made in this country before everyone is treated equally. I felt that I understood this part much better because of BUA’s All School Learning Experience last year about race and mass incarceration, and I think that any BUA student would enjoy seeing how the directors tied that together with the general plot of the Odyssey.
¹ “Black Odyssey Boston,” Central Square Theater, accessed May 16, 2019, https://www.centralsquaretheater.org/shows/black-odyssey-boston.