Georgia Shakespeare's THE ODYSSEY Promo

Even though Homer's The Odyssey has been performed, filmed, edited and adapted several times and it's been on many a high school reading list, it's still a work that falls into the "I was supposed to read it, but never did" realm. Most of us know the general outline of the story because we've been able to piece it together via all the various versions and retellings.

Georgia Shakespeare is doing an update of the story in October titled The Odyssey: A Journey Home that juxtaposes "Odysseus' 10-year journey home against the kaleidoscope of our modern soldiers returning home." So how do you convey what this updated take is going to look and feel like?

Not only are you battling what little bits people know of the original story, the moment you say "modern soldiers" the ever lasting specter of post-Vietnam malaise can't help but find its way into the minds of ticket buyers.

So I'm assuming that, besides helping to sell tickets, the below promo exists to make audiences aware that the focus will remain, as a big chunk of the original story does, on the journey, as well as the reasons why soldiers for millenniums have fought their way home. Odysseus' main drive is to get back to his wife and kid after all and for many solider during a tour that's a universal truth.

My only critique is that I do wish there had been bits of the actual production (even if it had to be restaged in the "real" world) in the promo. Although, that's probably not the fault of the folks doing this, since it's difficult to get around the current rules about what can and can't be filmed and posted/broadcast of a stage production before you run a foul of Actor's Equity. And exactly how much you can do outside of the production will always meet with time and resource constraints.

Having not seen the adaptation itself though, I would still consider this a successful preview in that it lets audiences know that if they bleed blue, red or some shade of purple, they most likely won't have to worry about being preached to.

Personally, I'm liberal as they come, yet, I've never been a fan of the politicization of the folks in uniforms by either side, in any form. Even more than that, I'm rarely a fan of didactic art. It's rarely informative and outside of the moment of its creation, dates quickly.

As one final thought, I do wonder what kind of additional story could have been told in this promo. It would have been interesting to see what bit of new story could have been created to play into the larger narrative, yet would stand on its own. As a town that has a lot overlap in the film and theater worlds, and does some very innovative work, I hope theater companies try to push beyond just the promos and to think bigger.

Georgia Shakespeare Presents-The Odyssey: A Homecoming from chris tsambis* on Vimeo.

*In full disclosure, I get drunk and sing karaoke with this dude from time to time.

PushPush To Produce Stage-to-Screen Comedy Series

PushPush TheaterPushPush Theater has always been engaged in some interesting projects since their inception. There are few multimedia arts organizations in Atlanta who are as actively experimenting with the integration of film and theater, as well as other mediums, as the Decatur based outfit. For awhile, their Dailies projects--a series of mostly quarterly film challenges that were screened for audiences--were a vital part of the Atlanta film scene and helped spawn locally produced The Signal as well as several dozen film groups and productions. Now PushPush  has announced that they're doing a stage-to-screen comedy series that will go to the web. Coming a few weeks after they just had Brian Newman in town to talk about new media and new models for filmmakers, it's even less of a surprising announcement. Newman has been traveling the world over lecturing about the changing media landscape and how it not only affects filmmakers and content creators, but how it can empower them.

PushPush has always been about applying what they've learned to create new works and new experiences. It will be interesting to see how this new series comes to fruition and what the result will be. This is one we'll definitely have to do more followup on. Press Release is below:



PushPush Produces Original Stage-to-Screen Comedy Series New Series Performed Live in Preparation for Filming and Digital Broadcast

July 6, 2010 - ATLANTA, GA - This fall, PushPush will begin a new and unique project, Slow Down Atlanta, an original episodic series about a group of out-of-work stooges who've started their own paranormal services company. PushPush will stage the first episodes of the series live before beginning to film the episodes for digital broadcasting and distribution. Utilizing some of Atlanta's top talent in film, theater and improv, the first episodes will be presented to live audiences in August, with the first online broadcast set for the end of 2010. This series will pave the way for a new international project aimed at filming in Berlin and Atlanta.

According to PushPush founding member and Managing Artistic Director, Shelby Hofer, staging the work before filming introduces a new process for long-term craft and content development, which reduces film production time. She explains, "The serial aspect itself, along with the live staging, allows the characters and story line to develop into a richer experience over time."  Hofer continues, "The added element of a live audience can improve the content before the cameras ever start rolling.  It also provides the creative team with an outlet for the gritty groundwork that will develop over a longer period of time."

The title Slow Down Atlanta originates from the notion that dealing with our personal ghosts, both literal and figurative, sometimes slows forward progress. The Slow Down series has a unique blend of modern office comedy and creepy, genre-based mystery show. The themes range from internet gaming and marriage to immigrant culture, the new racism, strippers, and good-old-fashioned homophobia. The plot begins as two 30-year-old friends rent an old office, hire a secretary and start a paranormal services business for beer money.

The launch of Slow Down Atlanta marks the start of PushPush's new entrepreneurial phase, where the company will implement new methods, including transmedial marketing, to monetize results of their new development projects. PushPush, in its role as a hub for artistic development, works to create projects that enable Atlanta theater and film artists to connect, explore and refine their craft, create original works, and provide equal effort toward improving revenue while doing it.

PushPush achieved success with its film and theater hybrids, such as The Robbers, Cats Have Nine Lives, The Seagull, and Intersection of Dreams. The launch of Slow Down is part of a 5-year-plan to present two types of serials, including a multi-cultural project entitled GRFX.

PushPush will hold open workshops on Monday evenings in July for actors, directors and other film or theater artists interested in getting involved.

For more details on Slow Down Atlanta, PushPush, or their new phase of development, contact Shelby Hofer.