Aug 9-Sep 3  West Coast Premiere
Marcus Gardley brings Homer’s epic tale home to Oakland.

No man can know himself if he doesn’t know his history. This could be familial history, cultural history, even national history. All of these histories are a part of who we are.
— Marcus Gardley, playwright

Written by Oakland-native Marcus Gardley and helmed by Cal Shakes artistic director Eric Ting, black odyssey mashes up Greek mythology and African-American folklore in this musical and visionary new take on Homer’s classic.

After he is lost at sea and presumed dead, Ulysses Lincoln, a Gulf War veteran, struggles to find his way home to his wife, Nella, and his son, Malachi.

A host of Gods control his fate, including the dignified Deus, scheming Paw Sidin, and radiant Aunt Tina, who make Ulysses confront his ancestral past so that he can embrace his unsettled present.




  • CALENDAR
  • WHO'S WHO
  • PHOTOS
  • PRESS
  • PROGRAM
  • INFORMATION FOR PARENTS

Who's Who

CREATIVE TEAM
Director—ERIC TING
Scenic Designer—MICHAEL LOCHER
Costume Designer—DEDE M. AYITE
Lighting Designer—XAVIER PIERCE
Sound Design—T. CARLIS ROBERTS
Vocal Composer & Vocal Ensemble Director—MOLLY HOLM
Vocal Composer & Music Director—LINDA TILLERY
Choreographer—LATANYA D. TIGNER
Choreographer—KENDRA KIMBROUGH BARNES
Dramaturg—LISA EVANS
Stage Manager—LAXMI KUMARAN*
Assistant Stage Manager—MEGAN MCCLINTOCK*

CAST
Great Grand Paw Sidin—ALDO BILLINGSLEA*
Malachai—MICHAEL CURRY
Benevolence Nausicca Sabine—SAFIYA FREDERICKS*
Great Aunt Tina; Scylla—MARGO HALL*
Nella Pell—OMOZÉ IDEHENRE*
Ulysses Lincoln—J. ALPHONSE NICHOLSON*
Artez Sabine—MICHAEL GENE SULLIVAN*
Great Grand Daddy—LAMONT THOMPSON*
Alsendra Sabine—DAWN L. TROUPE*

*member, Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.


PRODUCTION

Production photo for black odyssey Productiom photo for King Lear Production photo for black odyssey


(l to r) Michael Gene Sullivan, Michael Curry, Dawn L. Troupe, Omozé Idehenre, and Safiya Fredericks in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne


(l to r) Lamont Thompson as Great Grand Daddey Deus plays chess with Aldo Billingslea as Great Grand Paw Sidin, while Dawn L. Troupe, Omozé Idehenre, and Safiya Fredericks look on in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne


Foreground: Aldo Billingslea (Great Grand Paw Sidin), Margo Hall (Great Aunt Tina); rear: Michael Curry, Dawn L. Troupe, and Safiya Fredericks in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne

Production photo for black odyssey Productiom photo for King Lear Production photo for black odyssey


Omozé Idehenre as Nella Pell and Aldo Billingslea as Great Grand Paw Sidin in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne


Omozé Idehenre as Nella Pell and J. Alphonse Nicholson as Ulysses Lincoln in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne


(l to r) Aldo Billingslea (Great Grand Paw Sidin), J. Alphonse Nicholson (Ulysses Lincoln), Safiya Fredericks (Benevolence Nausicca Sabine), Dawn S. Troupe (Alsendra Sabine) and Lamont Thompson (Great Grand Daddy Deus) in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne

Production photo for black odyssey Productiom photo for King Lear Production photo for black odyssey


Dawn L. Troupe as Circe and J. Alphonse Nicholson as Ulysses Lincoln in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne.


J. Alphonse Nicholson (Ulysses Lincoln), Safiya Fredericks (Benevolence Nausicca Sabine), and Dawn S. Troupe (Alsendra Sabine) in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne


The cast of Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne

Production photo for black odyssey Productiom photo for King Lear Production photo for black odyssey


J. Alphonse Nicholson as Ulysses Lincoln and Lamont Thompson as Super Fly Tireseas in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne


(l to r) Lamont Thompson (Super Fly Tireseas), J. Alphonse Nicholson (Ulysses Lincoln), Safiya Fredericks (Benevolence Nausicca Sabine), Dawn L. Troupe (Caribídiss), and Aldo Billingslea (Great Grand Paw Sidin) in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne


(l to r) Margo Hall (Great Aunt Tina), Omozé Idehenre (Nella Pell), Aldo Billingslea (Suitor), and Michael Curry (Malachai) in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne

Production photo for black odyssey Productiom photo for King Lear


J. Alphonse Nicholson (Ulysses Lincoln), Margo Hall (Calypso) and Safiya Fredericks (Benevolence Nausicca Sabine) in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne


Safiya Fredericks (Benevolence Nausicca Sabine) and J. Alphonse Nicholson (Ulysses Lincoln) in Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey directed by Eric Ting at California Shakespeare Theater; photo by Kevin Berne


 

"Genius!" San Francisco Chronicle

"ambitious, ferocious...poetry and pathos and power along with humor and defiance." —Theaterdogs]

"...a white hot musical fable that’s as brilliant as it is badass." —Bay Area News Group

"It is impossible to leave Eric Ting’s masterful production without feeling a part of something bigger than one’s own limited space and time." —Shakespeare's Tribe

"Cal Shakes has found the Shakespearian spirit in our troubling times." —KQED Arts

"Homer’s tale becomes a burnished handed-down story, recalling the griot tradition, in which the hero’s journey is about learning to value family and ancestry." —SF Examiner

"An ingenious production in poetry and prose, filled with humor, history, myth, music, magic and dance." —Berkeleyside

"...a triumphant story grounded in Oakland lore." —Theatrius

"By melding Greek gods with African deities, [Marcus Gardley has] created a new mythology." —SF Weekly

"The storytelling opened-up my emotional side more than a few times..." —TonyBear.com

"[black odyssey] is powerful and adventurous, like the Greek myth it is named after." —LaMorinda Weekly

INFORMATION FOR PARENTS

This production of black odyssey contains strong language, mature themes, herbal cigarette smoking, the use of strobe lighting, and simulated gunshots.

We believe in opening young minds to the power and magic of live theater. However, we understand that not every production may be appropriate for every child or family, as we frequently address mature issues, ideas and themes. We are happy to speak with you further about the content and/or artistic expression of any of our productions to aid you in determining whether it is suitable for your children.

Children under four are not permitted in the amphitheater as a courtesy to our patrons and artists.

INFORMATION FOR PARENTS

We believe in opening young minds to the power and magic of live theater. However, we understand that not every production may be appropriate for every child or family, as we frequently address mature issues, ideas, and themes. We encourage you to consider whether any particular Main Stage production is appropriate for your child, and to be in dialogue with us and your children about the content and/or artistic expression therein.

Children under four are not permitted in the Amphitheater as a courtesy to our patrons and artists.