Prime Theatre (formely Sixth Sense Theatre) celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, the company who are based at the Wyvern Theatre will be presenting their latest show ‘The Odyssey’ at Swindon Arts Centre from Thu 21 to Sat 23 July. The show is written by Prime Youth Theatre’s Playwrights and performed by Prime Youth Theatre Actors. We sat down playwright and actor Katie Smith to chat about the rehearsal process for the show and what its like to perform a scene you have written yourself!
Hi Katie, thank you so much for your time! Can you telll us the story of the Odyssey?
To me, The Odyssey is a story of people trying to work out how they fit into the world. Everyone knows Odysseus is a war hero, but when the war ends he must process the things he has done and find a way to leave it all behind. In his absence Penelope needs to protect herself and Telemachus from the suitors, while grappling with her doubts over Odysseus’ fate. Athena has to find her voice amongst all the chaos and stand up to her father in order to help the mortals find their way. Throughout The Odyssey, all of these characters go on the journey of choosing their own identities, but in a world full of gods, monsters, and witches, they have to fight to see their choices through.
Photo Credit: Josh Ainsworth
Who is your character and what is her role in the story?
I play Penelope, who was known in the original story for her faithfulness and loyalty to her husband, Odysseus. In our version, Penelope, the rightful ruler of Ithaca, is engaged to Odysseus. When he fails to return after the Trojan War, the men declare him dead and demand that Penelope make one of them her king. She proves to be just as cunning as Odysseus by deceiving the suitors, promising them she will marry once she finishes weaving a tapestry. She weaves by day and unravels all her work by night, waiting and hoping for Odysseus to return, confiding in her only allies: Odysseus’ younger brother Telemachus and faithful servant Eurycleia. The thing that I admire most about Penelope (and that sets our Penelope apart from the Ancient Greek original) is the way she takes her fate into her own hands and comes to realise over the course of the show that she has power of her own; she doesn’t need anyone else to fight her battles for her.
“It all starts with taking that first step and getting involved!”
What has been like to write and perform in the same show?
As a member of both the writing group and the cast, I feel really privileged to have been given the chance to bring this character to life in the script as well as onstage. Any chance to perform is a blessing for most people my age, but to have the opportunity to shape a show as a young writer as well as a young actor is practically unheard of. The writing group has been involved in the creation of the show from the outset as we discussed the ideas that excited us and began to draft our first scenes. Everyone we’ve worked with has been totally supportive throughout the process of writing, editing, and rehearsing, regardless of our age or previous experience, which has made this whole process an absolute joy. Of course, the fun has been accompanied by lots of hard work, but that just makes it even more rewarding to see our show finally come together.
What would be your advice be to people wanting to get involved in theatre?
My advice to anyone wanting to get involved in theatre, especially teenagers and young people, would be to just give it a go! I joined Prime Youth Theatre as a nervous Year 10 with a shy interest in acting, and I’m coming out the other side now as someone with a deep-rooted love of theatre and a newfound passion for scriptwriting. In workshops you can discover skills you never knew you had, open up whole new worlds of opportunities, and find some of the best friends you’ll ever know. Theatre has given me all these things and plenty more. It all starts with taking that first step and getting involved.
The Odyssey is at Swindon Arts Centre from Thu 21 to Sat 23 July.
For more information and tickets please visit: http://bit.ly/TheOdyssey16