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Losing A Day to a Greek Epic (as you do), Post #50 - Laura Wise

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August 15th, 2015


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03:43 pm - Losing A Day to a Greek Epic (as you do), Post #50
Yesterday I lost approximately 9 and a half hours to The Iliad.

A friend of mine alerted me to the project, regarding which I'd unaccountably missed advanced word (which meant a to-do list basically was left forlorn and untouched, other than meetings I couldn't skip). The Almeida Theatre, in partnership with the British Museum, produced a complete reading of Robert Fagles' translation of the Homeric epic: 50-odd actors, each getting 10 to 30 minutes to read sections of the poem, starting at the first line and ending 16+ hours later with Tim Pigott-Smith saying "And so the Trojans buried Hector, breaker of horses."

The idea of the project is cool enough, but because we live in the future, the Almeida livestreamed all of it. ANYONE in the world could watch, including a subtropical-dwelling someone who really should have been working. The production was bare-bones: two long-shot cameras and one close-up for the readers, both at the British Museum daytime reading and the Almeida Theatre conclusion (which began at 8 pm and itself was well over four hours: as in, Mark Gatiss did his full-length performance at the National in the PMarber/Turgenev play and then bustled over to the Almeida to read. Which I missed, damnit).

The performances were phenomenal. It was a diverse group of actors (in terms of age, gender, race) pulled together and directed by Rupert Goold, director of the Almeida, and Robert Icke, his associate director. I didn't get to see all of it, but I saw 9 and a half hours, so.... It was all good, and I liked the many different reading and performance styles. My favorites of the ones I saw: John Heffernan (who played Lascelles in JS&MN), a dryly funny yet moving take on an early Achean mission to get that damn Achilles out of his tent; Kate Fleetwood, who was FIERCE, giving real promise for her Medea later this season; [EDITED TO ADD] Rory Kinnear, who was great with Hector v Ajax]; Sam West, whose work I always adore; Bertie Carvel, who got to do Achilles' rage-filled grief at hearing of Patroclus' death, which he did to such effect that he practically blew out the speakers and quite literally roared louder than the thunder outside my window at the time. (I tried to find a working link to viewer-made vids of his and Ben Whishaw's readings, but nothing's playing for me: however, here's a gif-set of him Acting Ferociously. A tweet from some Metal head, which B Carvel later retweeted (bless), was this: "Holy hell, Bertie Carvel reading the Iliad was probably the most amazing, most Metal thing I've ever seen.")

To make everything more special, there was an official IliadLive Twitter account posting wittily phrased plot updates and comments and keeping us up-to-date on where we were and who was reading, and #iliad trended off and on all day. It was a delightful, odd community to witness this feat.

Sometimes it's pretty damn cool to live in the future.

What's making you happy today? Hope you have a good long list. :)

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:August 16th, 2015 04:10 pm (UTC)
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The podcast isn't out yet, but it's coming, per the Almeida website.
[User Picture]
From:kathyh
Date:August 16th, 2015 04:22 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yes, thanks, I just saw that and was quite relieved there were going to be several podcasts rather than one enormous one!

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