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January 3, 2019 - February 3, 2019

black odyssey

By Marcus Gardley
Directed by Jude Sandy and Joe Wilson, Jr.

“You are lost in your blood, Ulysses. Lost in your history. The only way home is to traverse through your blood until you find your heart.”

One man’s journey home from war leads him on an adventure connecting him with his own ancestors and our shared humanity, before finally delivering him back to his wife and son. Throughout his epic voyage, Ulysses Lincoln’s fate is controlled by a host of gods including the dignified Deus, scheming Paw Sidin, and radiant Aunt Tina. This breathtaking, vibrant, and gloriously theatrical production is a lyrical, musical, and spiritual celebration of storytelling and what it means to find home.

Best seats and prices available early. 

Add a Pre-Show Prologue
Join us for a FREE prologue! One hour prior to every performance, a member of the cast leads a 30-minute discussion with a peek into the play-making process and other details. Each Prologue concludes with a Q&A with the audience. Learn more.

Buzz
"... funny, yet poignant, imaginative, yet rooted in history. I urge you not to miss this fabulous play."
CULTURE VULTURE
2019 Jan
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2019 Feb
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2019 Mar
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2019 May
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2019 Jun
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2019 Jul
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2019 Aug
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Spoiler Alert!

Synopsis

Below is a synopsis of the show. You've been warned.

Ulysses Lincoln wants a better life for his family. He loves his wife, Nella Pell, and their unborn child so he decides to join the navy to help provide a better life for them. He is almost immediately deployed to Afghanistan and during the Gulf War he shoots and kills a son of Great Grand Paw Sidin, the God of Sea and King of Fish. Paw Sidin is furious at this loss and tries to attack Ulysses and kill him by drowning him when Great Grand Daddy Deus (God of Gods, God of the Sky), steps in based on the plea of his daughter and Goddess, Aunt Tina.

The two gods start a game of chess to battle for the life of Ulysses. This epic chess battle rips Ulysses from the fabric of time and sends him spiraling into the past to confront just exactly who he is, all while leaving the present – and his family – behind. Nella Pell is told that Ulysses is dead, but she refuses to believe it. With Paw Sidin constantly trying to trick her into giving up on Ulysses or to stop caring for him, Nella Pell has it rough. She stands strong, and her love for her husband does not waiver. Out of care for Ulysses, Aunt Tina comes to the mortal world to aid Nella Pell in raising her and Ulysses’ child, Malachi. Before they know it, thirteen years have passed and Nella Pell still has not given up hope that Ulysses will return.

Meanwhile, Ulysses is stuck as a pawn in the game of chess. He finds himself in many different places throughout time, including slave quarters, and eventually, he is stuck on the roof of a house that has flooded in the 1960s with a family of a mother, father, and daughter – all who cannot swim. There is no hope in sight for rescue and Ulysses begins to reflect upon his journey and what has happened. He thinks on his love for Nella Pell and his son that he has yet to meet when he decides to swim for it, accompanied by Benevolence, the child on the roof of the house he’s on. He tells her about the war that he was in and Benevolence listens intently. Ulysses suddenly realizes he must confront the one thing that he has been avoiding, the death of the man that he killed in Afghanistan. He asserts that it was an accident and that he was threatened by the person that he killed. Paw Sidin is furious that he is losing the game of chess against Deus and that Ulysses keeps escaping death, so he decides to go to the mortal world to try and intervene.

Nella Pell begins to doubt herself when Malachi begins acting out. She believes that if he had just had a father, he would not be behaving the way that he is. She begins to date a suitor named Johnny, who is actually Paw Sidin in disguise, and he tries to convince her that they should wed – and the faster the better. Aunt Tina (now going by Aunt Tee) tries to interject but being in mortal form for so long is killing her. Her mortal body gives up and she dies, leaving Nella Pell, Malachi, and Ulysses alone.

Ulysses and Benevolence are confronted by a police officer about who they are and Ulysses tries to explain that he is trying to save the little girl from the flooding. Benevolence explains that the officer cannot see her, but reveals who she truly is to Ulysses – his own mother who died in childbirth. She guides him back toward the present and Ulysses is thrown in jail.

At the same time, Ulysses’ son Malachi finds himself in a situation when he is confronted by the police, too. He is arrested and stuck in a jail cell – the exact same one that his father is in. Ulysses and Malachi sit side-by-side when a police officer explains to Ulysses that the kid next to him is, in fact, his son. The officer takes off his hat to reveal that he is Paw Sidin. Angry that he was going to lose the game of chess – which would allow Ulysses to live – Paw Sidin explains that he will keep his son in jail and that he will be marrying Nella Pell that upcoming weekend, ruining both of their lives. Paw Sidin explains that this is all because of the death of his son in Afghanistan, and Ulysses breaks down and admits that the killing was all his fault and that he had murdered Paw Sidin’s son out of fear.

Ulysses is suddenly left to face the God and find his family without the protection of Deus or Aunt Tina. Ulysses must face his truth. Will that be enough to satisfy the God and help Ulysses get back to his family?

Community Partners

Cast & Creative

Cast
Joe Wilson, Jr.
Ulysses Lincoln
Jude Sandy '09
Deus
Kalyne Coleman '20
Nella Pell
Omar Robinson
Paw Sidin
Kai Tshikosi
Malachi
Julia Lema
Aunt Tina
Anwar Ali '20
Artez Sabine
Cloteal L. Horne '20
Alsendra Sabine
Jackie Davis
Benevolence

Creative

Jude Sandy '09
Director
Joe Wilson, Jr.
Director
Michael Évora
Music Director
yon Tande Whitney V. Hunter
Choreographer
Tyra Ann-Marie Wilson
Assistant Director
Edward E. Haynes, Jr.
Set Designer
Kara Harmon
Costume Designer
Dawn Chiang
Lighting Designer
Peter Sasha Hurowitz
Sound Designer
Meg Tracy Leddy
Production Stage Manager
James Kane
Assistant Stage Manager
Alexandra D'Agostino
Production Assistant

Sponsors

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