One of the oldest epic poems in Greek literature, Homer’s Odyssey, has been reimagined and given a new twist for the modern age by a group of community actors in Trowbridge working in partnership with the National Theatre in London.
Trowbridge Town Hall is partnering with National Theatre to create the Four Winds, episode three of a five-part nationwide production of The Odyssey, which opened with The Lotus Eaters in Stoke-on-Trent on March 30-April 2 and continued with The Cyclops in Doncaster April 15-16. The Four Winds, was performed on April 22-23 at Trowbridge Town Hall and was written by local playwright, Florence Espeut-Nickless, using the actors’ own experiences, stories and connections to the local area.

Alan Wright, Director of Trowbridge Town Hall, said: “It is such an honour to be working with the National Theatre and our collaborative partners in Sunderland, Doncaster and Stoke-On-Trent. It is a dream for us all, and a very proud moment for the town.”

In the initial stages, 33 local people were hand-selected for the Trowbridge production, which has been directed by Jesse Jones. Eleven of these talented amateurs will be going to the final performance on the Olivier Stage in the National Theatre.

Seven of the group are special needs actors – many of whom didn’t have any acting experience before being chosen.

Florence’s interpretation of Homer’s original poem features a modern take on ancient social and moral issues and local references to Bath, Frome, Trowbridge and Westbury.

The story of the Four Winds is simple: after escaping the lair of the Cyclops, the Greek hero Odysseus, King of Ithaca and son of Laertes and Anticleia, arrives at the beautiful party island of Aeolia, home to Aeolus, the keeper of the four winds and a power-hungry Queen.

Keen to help him on the journey home, Aeolus gives Odysseus a bag containing all winds but the west. With Ithaca in sight, Odysseus falls asleep only to wake up not quite where he imagined.

The Four Winds is told through the contemporary lens of Andy and Dion, a couple living in Trowbridge’s Studley Green. When Andy becomes part of Odysseus’ army, it’s Dion and their two children who will pay the ultimate price.

Florence says: “The production looks at who our leaders are, who pays for their failings, and how we survive when our everyday heroes are taken from us.”

Episode 4, The Island of the Sun, will take place at The Fire Station, Sunderland, on April 28-29, while Episode 5 The Underworld, will be staged as a full-scale musical production at the National Theatre in London from August 26-28.

The multi-location production has been created to mark the fifth anniversary of Public Acts, and is being produced in partnership with local communities, theatres and artists nationwide and will form part of the National Theatre’s 60th anniversary programme.

The lead creative team for the project is Emily Lim, the Director of Public Acts, playwright and lyricist Chris Bush, who will write the final episode and act as Dramaturg for the first four episodes.

They have worked in collaboration with four local playwrights, and Jim Fortune who will compose music for the final episode and write a finale song that will feature across all five episodes.

The final production in London will feature community performers from all four nationwide companies, as well as members recruited through founding Public Acts community partners in London, founding theatre partner Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Trybe House Theatre in London.

The Galley is on an epic journey around the country, powered by the messages it collects for our loved ones.
Each ribbon you see tied to the Galley represents someone who has been sent a message. The further the Galley travels, the more ribbons are added, the more people are remembered and the more connected we become.
The Galley appeared in Trowbridge Town Park, messages and ribbons were added to be a part of The Galley’s journey.

Click Here to read more about The Odyssey Public Acts | National Theatre