We Players Presents ODYSSEY ON ANGEL ISLAND, 5/12-7/1

We Players (Artistic Director, Ava Roy; Managing Director, Lauren Dietrich Chavez), together with The Angel Island Conservancy (Gail Dolton, President) and Angel Island State Park (Amy Brees, Site Superintendent) began ticket sales on April 20 for their island-wide performance of The Odyssey on Angel Island (May 12-July 1). An associated visual art exhibition opens April 28 at the park's Visitor Center. For more information, visit www.weplayers.org or call 415.547.0189.

We Players' production of The Odyssey on Angel Island is part of a unique artistic residency at Angel Island State Park, including performance and visual art, as well as education and community engagement programs exploring themes common to both Angel Island's history and the ancient story of Odysseus's adventures: journeying; war; heroes; and homecoming. The Odyssey on Angel Island has been adapted by director Ava Roy as a site-specific interactive performance that will begin at Ayala Cove, the main dock area of Angel Island, and send audiences on a journey around the island. Audiences will visit historic buildings, former military installations, hiking trails and beaches that will serve as settings for the performance.

Along the way the audience will have the opportunity to interact with the dozen actors who play over forty roles in the production. "We invite audiences to engage all of their senses on this journey," explains Ms. Roy. "They'll not only travel with the characters, but can ask questions of them; and there are opportunities to eat and drink, relax, celebrate, and even plot their own path throughout the performance." Audiences will be provided with a kit containing some essentials for their journey (including a special map), and snacks are integrated into the action of certain scenes. But Ms. Roy encourages audiences to bring their own lunch and water, as well as sturdy shoes, for the adventure. "It's an all-day, outdoor event," she says, "we're experiencing ten years of Odysseus's adventures in a single day, so there's a lot of activity."

For audience members who might not be up for an all-day hike, We Players has arranged transport by motorized vehicle at certain performances. At any performance, audiences are also welcome to bring bicycles, strollers, or wagons, with the caveat that while most paths are paved, some are not. Getting to the island is also an adventure: the performance starts at 10:30, timed with the arrival of ferries from San Francisco and Tiburon – both possible embarkation points for audience members, who can purchase their ferry passage with their ticket. Audiences can also ferry from Oakland or Alameda by way of San Francisco, but will need to purchase their tickets separately from San Francisco Bay Ferry (www.blueandgoldfleet.com). Ferries will likely be the most common form of transport to the island, but those with access to their own watercraft can also take advantage of Angel Island's many public moorings. The We Players website (www.weplayers.org) details transportation options to and around Angel Island.

We Players relishes the fact that each audience member can choose their level of participation and their perspective during performances. Says Ms. Roy, "We aim to give audience members the power to decide how they'll experience the action, either by choosing where to stand during a scene, or interacting with an actor in a way that impacts the show. Every performance is unique, and that's exciting. Sometimes, they might just want to enjoy the scenery." We Players chose to stage The Odyssey to fit this particular location, so even the scenery adds to the drama.

We Players find a number of parallels between the Odysseus story and the complex history of Angel Island, which includes a long military history as well as service as an Immigration Station during the early 20th Century. Odysseus and his crew were soldiers, having fought ten years in the Trojan War, but also travelers who were at times welcomed and at other times shunned or brutalized upon their arrival. "Odysseus found that his journey was transformational in itself," states Ms. Roy. "I think a modern audience can relate to the ways in which journeys – especially journeys to seek a home, or journeys of war – can shape a person, his sense of self and place, and feelings of alienation or belonging."

We Players is a site-specific performing arts company dedicated to exploring contemporary social issues through engagement with public space and potent stories. The company often uses classical texts, such as Shakespeare, and interweaves the narrative elements of each play with the history of its performance site. Recently honored with a 2010 Best of the Bay editors' pick from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, We Players' past productions include Shakespeare's Macbeth at Fort Point and Hamlet on Alcatraz Island. For more information, please visit www.weplayers.org.

The Odyssey on Angel Island, based on Homer's epic poem and adapted and directed by Ava Roy, opens at Ayala Cove, Angel Island State Park, and travels throughout the island. The show runs Saturdays and Sundays May 12-July 1, 2012; and Fridays May 18, May 25 and June 1, from 10:30am – 4pm, not including travel time to and from Angel Island. Tickets (available April 20): $40 - $75, at www.weplayers.org. Information and group sales: 415.547.0189, reservations@weplayers.org, or www.weplayers.org.

Photo credit: Tracy Martin

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