Port Townsend students bringing 'Odyssey' to life starting Friday
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Aragorne Deane
In “The Odyssey,” a cast of 29 youngsters shares the stage with giant puppets. Scylla, center, is played by Charlotte Bartlett, 12, with help from puppeteers Mimi Molotsky and Sienna Fink, both 12, and Orion Weinblatt Dey, 11.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — “Humans . . . they stumble from one tragedy to the next . . . After all these years, you'd expect some change, some progress . . . But their behavior gets worse. They are . . . squabbling brats, and the world is their kindergarten!”

So Zeus tells the Council of the Gods in Port Townsend's version of “The Odyssey,” Homer's epic poem, which will come alive starting Friday at the Mountain View Commons gym, 1925 Blaine St.

This “Odyssey” stars 29 youngsters from across the Port Townsend School District — age 5 to 17 — in performances taking place this and next weekend in a production supported by the Jefferson County YMCA and the Port Townsend Arts Commission.

Also on stage are huge puppets, including a 10-foot-tall Cyclops and six-headed Scylla, made by local sculptor Thaddeus Jurczynski with help from students and parents.

This “Odyssey” is geared toward just about all ages, said co-director Marc Weinblatt, though some scenes may be scary for very young children.

Weinblatt, of the Mandala Center for Change in Port Townsend, is producing “The Odyssey” with students in the OCEAN (Opportunity, Community, Experience, Academics, Navigation) program, an independent-study project in Port Townsend's public schools.

Performances are set for 7 p.m. this Friday and next Friday, March 22; at 3 p.m. this Sunday; and finally at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. next Saturday, March 23.

Admission is by any contribution at the door, with a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children.

It is a benefit for the OCEAN program, and no one will be turned away, Weinblatt said.

In Homer's story, Odysseus, the King of Ithaca (played by Alex Kuykendall, 15), and his crew have finally finished a decade of brutal war in Troy.

The victorious warriors sail back toward Ithaca, but their continued selfishness leads to another 10 years of exile, with one misfortune after another.

On their quest for home, our hero and his comrades face a Cyclops, witches, ghosts, sirens, sea monsters, nymphs and more.

“Will Odysseus be spared? Who can say . . . who can say,” Zeus muses.

Being in the play has been “a great experience,” said cast member Austin Krieg, 14.

Besides acting in a big production, he has learned about Greek mythology and life in ancient Greece.

“'The Odyssey' is very much a story about a 'crew' and their interdependence on each other through adventures as well as adversity,” added co-director Rowen Matkins.

This interpretation of the play brings together a varied bunch: Laurence Cole of the PT Songlines choir wrote the original music; Uptown Street Fair coordinator Lisa Doray leads the technical team; and parent Nanci Kuykendall is stage manager.

The young cast features Thierry Williamson, Austin Krieg, Clara Johnson Noble, Zain Ganton, Basil Williamson, Max Doray, Imogen Williamson and Mary d'Arcy as Odysseus' crew; Tanner Matthew as Zeus; Onyea Sholty as Athena; Xandra Sonandre as Hermes; Orion Weinblatt Dey inside the Cyclops puppet; Keira Matkins as Circe; Alanna Daily as Calypso; Mimi Molotsky as Nausicaa; Sienna Fink as Penelope; and Charlotte Bartlett as Scylla.

Also appearing will be Zephyr Bell, Dante Deane, Zoey Doray, Donna Lukin, Lia Poore, Ayden Ratliff, Tori Sonandre, Zoey Sonandre and Aliyah and Jasmine Yearian.

Thomas Kuykendall serves as assistant director while playing Eumaeus and the ghost of Tiresias.

Audiences should treat this as an “indoor theater-in-the-park,” Weinblatt said, since most of the seating will be on the gym floor.

“Bring your own pillows, blankets, BackJacks and low-rider chairs,” he advised, though a few regular chairs and some bleacher seating will be available.

For more information on the show, the OCEAN program and other Mandala Center for Change projects, visit www.MandalaforChange.com or phone 360-344-3435.

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 13. 2013 6:11PM
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