Lonely Planet Writer

Theatre project sails around Greek Islands performing as it retraces the Odyssey

An artistic project called ‘Meeting the Odyssey’ will sail around the Greek islands this summer giving theatre performances and organising workshops inspired by Homer’s ancient epic, as a tribute to the invaluable cultural heritage Greece gave the world and as a sign of solidarity with its people during the economic crisis.

Windmills on Leros Island.
Windmills on Leros Island. Image by anybookers / CC BY 2.0

The project, supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union, is in its third and final year. In 2014 the ship Hoppet  sailed around the Baltic Sea and in 2015 it went on a voyage around the Mediterranean Sea. As part of the project, more than 350 artists from around the world took part in 110 performances held in 25 ports, to an audience of around 19,000 people. As stated on the project’s website, its aim is to enhance intercultural dialogue and overcome prejudices.

Fishing boat on Lesbos.
Fishing boat on Lesbos. Image by Ronald Saunders / CC BY-SA 2.0

This year the tour will launch at the beginning of June on the island of Leros in the Dodecanese. Stops on the itinerary include Lesbos, Lavrio and Elefsina near Athens, and Skyros. The journey will end at the beginning of August on Ikaria, one of the northeastern Aegean islands. This summer the tour will bring together more than 50 artists from all over Europe. Apart from four theatre productions created by the project partners, there will also be short Instant performances, which will combine the Odyssey theme with contemporary topics relevant to the locals (based on the workshops) and will differ at each stop on the tour.

Vathy, Ithaca, Greece.
Vathy, Ithaka, Greece. Image by Zhang Yu / CC BY-SA 2.0

Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey tells the story of the Greek hero Odysseus and his ten-year-long journey after the Trojan war to his home on the Ionian island of Ithaka (Ithaki), where his wife Penelope and son Telemachus waited for him. It was written at the end of the eighth century BC and is considered a sequel to The Iliad, also attributed to Homer. Ithaki island offers hikes to several sites associated with the Homeric myth.