The Odyssey Project

The Odyssey Project is part of the new Theater and Community initiative that is designed as an outreach performance program. The project brings incarcerated youth into the university to undertake a series of specialized modules, mentored throughout by university faculty, and joined in their experience by undergraduate students as their peers. The experience incorporates reading and writing exercises, improvisation classes, martial arts choreography, mime, mask building, animation, dance, drumming, and performance ritual, that culminates in a public theater performance in downtown Santa Barbara of an adaptation of the Homeric epic poem The Odyssey. The participants progress from interpretation to ownership and authorship as they evolve in the process to a point where they are able to re-write the Odyssey in their own words.  UC students benefit by learning that a valuable source of their inspiration as artists, educators, and social workers emanates from human stories, both their own and others.  Teens from the detention facility benefit by finding validation for their voices and sharing a creative endeavor in an environment of higher learning, Since The Odyssey Project was established in 2011, it has received numerous intramural awards including a Pearl Chase Senate grant, two grants from the Santa Barbara Foundation, and an NEA. A feature length documentary is currently being filmed that centers on The Odyssey Project as an examination of theater arts with rehabilitation as an alternative to penalty and punishment.

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