My first blog text ever.
Sitting on a flight from Helsinki to Barcelona, working against the clock (literarily because I forgot the cable for my Mac at home and will not be able to recharge the laptop until I meet someone who is willing to lend me one). I am on my way to Montpellier, where the big IETM Spring Plenary Meeting will take place. The IETM meetings can be crazy, frustrating, super creative and overloaded with social activity. It was actually during one of them, in Cracow in 2011, that this project, Meeting the Odyssey, first was born.
I remember that I told Michele Losi about the archipelago theatre that we have since 40 years in the South of Finland. It travels around on an old fishing boat every summer from village to village with a theatre company on board, performing at every place. A bit of Medieval tradition to it in a way… The shows are not filled with technical super powers and the plays are mostly comedies. But they are filled with something genuine, something very warm.
And we started talking, there in Cracow, about making a European Archipelago Theatre, that would sail from one place to the next with a theatre crew on board. Michele got really enthusiastic. I thought it was a fun idea, quite a romantic one. And totally unreal of course.
Later, the crazy Vinci theory came along. Michele had found it somewhere, and it somehow matched our crazy thoughts. No, Felice Vinci’s theory is crazier than our project. He claims Odysseus did not sail in the Mediterranean Sea. He says there are several evidence that Odysseus sailed in the North and Baltic Seas, looking for his Ithaka, making Denmark and Finland important land marks for his adventures. His book has been translated to many languages, and there seems to be even an association in Finland that holds his theory as a manifest.
Well, for us these assumptions of Vinci were mostly inspiring, helping us to play with the idea of a European Odysseus, a man of no roots, of all roots, of universal roots. A man belonging to all of us, no matter which sea we have been swimming in as kids. It was deliberating to think about this possibility of a Nordic Odysseus, because the mere idea of him took away the normal national possession of certain traditions, languages, habits, dishes, and pieces of art. It made national belonging somewhat less important. And that really helps when building a project like this.
I have been thinking about these first steps of the project a lot. They are important. And I thank Michele for being so insistent in reminding me of them. We should make our very best to be as genuine as possible in trying to reconnect ourselves to a wider belonging, to deeper roots than the local or national one, which of course are obvious and will not disappear.
So. That is the point of departure.
I started this blog text trying to float on top, but I dived right in to the core. Next time I’ll stick to more practical stuff, I promise. Or that is what I plan to do: tell about the first tour taking off in St Petersburg.