It is time for this project to reach its last tour. It is time to set sails and reach the final destination: Greece, the home of Odysseus himself, the origin of so many myths and legends, philosophers and artists.
When we planned the Meeting the Odyssey project in 2012, we decided that the last tour would happen in Greece as a tribute to all culture, arts, civilization and heritage that we can thank Greece for. Another reason was to show solidarity with the Greeks in times of economical crisis. We wanted to go against the trend of blaming Greece and the south for the crisis. We wanted to do something that would unite Europeans instead of dividing us. Meeting the Odyssey was our answer to those first signs of EU’s internal crisis that were discernible already back in 2012 – with a ship filled with theatre we wanted to enhance intercultural dialogue and overcome prejudices.
We have sailed many seas and performed in many ports since those planning days. Almost 19000 people have seen the performances in 25 places all over Europe. Meeting the Odyssey started its journey 2014 in St.Petersburg in the middle of very difficult relations because of the Crimean crisis. After a rainy and cold tour on the Baltic Sea, the project reached Central European places like Prague, Opole and Berlin. In 2015 the tour went around Italy, France and Malta, stopping also Lampedusa, the island where so many migrants have landed after a dangerous trip from the African continent. All along, this project has been somehow present in the places of concern in Europe. The same pattern continues as we reach the final tour in Greece – a country in deep financial crisis and the place where thousands of refugees are waiting for a life away from violence and war.
The European spectrum has changed during these years. We started out focusing on the collaboration and dialogue within Europe. We end up confronting us with a situation far more complex, where all of Europe is trying to deal with the arrival of thousands of people from outside Europe, people who represent different cultures, religions and languages. How can Meeting the Odyssey face these challenges? How can we, as artists, contribute to a better understanding between cultures and traditions? Or can we do anything at all?
This last question comes very naturally to me while writing this text: Can we do anything at all? We have one month to start of tour, and we still don’t know exactly where the first performance will be shown. We have no flights or accommodation booked. A producer’s nightmare, in other words. However, we do have a beautiful sailing ship called Hoppet to take us around in the Adriatic, Ionian and Aegean Seas and we have over 50 artists from all over Europe ready to perform fantastic theatre productions as well as Instant performances and workshops.
We are ready to meet challenges, and we are ready to tour in Greece.