Theater of the First Amendment Presents The Odyssey of Telémaca

Posted: May 21, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Referring to “deepening relationships” between the company and the team of Mary Hall Surface and David Maddox, Rick Davis, artistic director, Theater of the First Amendment (TFA), calls The Odyssey of Telémaca “the largest, most ambitious production TFA has undertaken.” The world premiere, from the creators of Sing Down the Moon, Perseus Bayou, and Mississippi Pinocchio, opens on Friday, June 4, and runs through Sunday, June 6, at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

Using music, texture, color, light, movement, dynamic storytelling, dance, and giant puppets and ingenious props, The Odyssey of Telémaca appeals to all ages. The daring heroine must believe in herself on her quest to find her father, as she struggles to protect her family and her village from the evil Don Ricardo.

In the Sonora Desert region of Northern Mexico in the 19th century, mines were exhausted, the wealthy owners and the workers were moving on, and the impending Mexican Revolution released long-suppressed grievances by the exploited poor. Using this backdrop, Surface and Maddox set out to create a tale of heroism. Surface is quick to point out that The Odyssey of Telémaca is more “inspired by the central domestic events of The Odyssey” than directly based on Homer’s epic. She and Maddox found at the crux of their story the answer to the question, what happens to the child of a hero when left behind?

Composer and music director David Maddox says his inspiration came from the musical traditions born in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico, in popular 3/4 waltz time. The Odyssey of Telémaca features a live band—drums, bass, guitar, piano, trumpet, violin, and accordion—performing approximately 20 individual songs.

The Odyssey of Telémaca features Jenna Sokolowski as Telémaca, Cesar Guadamuz as Coyote, Janine Gulisano as Pureza, Dwayne Nitz as Tomás, Eric Lee Johnson as Don Ricardo, and Steve Tipton as Omero. Other featured actors include Lynn Filusch as La Llorona and Eduardo Placer as Hérmio. Stage management is by Taryn Colberg, assisted by David Elias.

Tony Cisek’s set design has rock desert landscapes that move and shift, and other elements on a larger-than-life scale. Helen Qizhi Huang’s colorful costumes are rooted in the historical, with lots of detail drawn from the culture and era. Marie Schneggenburger’s cleverly designed puppets and masks include genuine denizens of the desert landscape, such as vultures, scorpions, desert pigs, and a fantasy creature that is half-man, half-coyote. Dan Covey provides the lighting design, Dan Joyce choreographs, and Dreama Greaves provides props.

Both the lyrics and the spoken words in the production are primarily English, with some Spanish words.

The Odyssey of Telémaca is made possible in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Tickets are $25; children 12 and under are half price. Charge by phone at 703-218-6500 or visit

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