By Kristen Day
What does it take to be a hero? According to Homer’s classic work, The Odyssey, it takes more than just a cape. The epic tale follows husband and father, Odysseus, as he overcomes monsters and strange lands to return home. On October 15th, Purdue Convocations is welcoming Aquila Theatre to retell The Odyssey. But before the show heads to town, what questions would you have for a hero? We got to ask 10 of our most daring questions to a member of the show’s cast. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Q. (Kristen) Can you introduce yourself?
A. (Cameron) I’m Cameron Robertson from Gloucestershire in England, I studied History & Classical Studies at the University of Wales, Lampeter and I play Odysseus.
Q. Why do you perform?
A. I’m an actor because I love stories and believe that storytelling is an essential part of human civilisation, helping us to make sense of who we are and our place in the bigger picture.
Q. What’s the power of theatre for non-performers?
A. Theatre audiences should be entertained and informed, transported even, and good theatre helps to address questions that demand to be asked. The Greeks also held that theatre provided both individuals and society with catharsis, the opportunity to release high emotions, particularly pity and fear, as a sort of cleansing of the emotional self. Sort of an emotional detox.
Q. Who should see this show?
A. This show is for everyone. The Odyssey is a definitive ‘classic’ tale, and it is a classic because its relevance has outlived the society it was written for and speaks to all of us, it has an enduring power.
Q. In 10 words or less, can you summarize the story of the Odyssey? (Have fun with it!)
A. Gods, goddesses, men and monsters help and hinder a homecoming.
Q. How does Aquilla Theatre breathe life into a story as old as the Odyssey?
A. For one thing, Aquila runs a national initiative called Warrior Chorus that works with present-day veterans and this allows a modern perspective on what war does to both the combatants and to those left behind, and whether we can ever really come home again. This work has informed and helped shape our production.
Q. The Odyssey most notably explores themes of the hero’s journey, home, and family. Are there any unexpected themes the play addresses as well?
A. As well as the themes of the hero’s journey, home, and family, The Odyssey also addresses the plight of refugees and the destitute, and society’s obligations to them.
Q. Are there still heroes in 2019?
A. Yes, there are still heroes in 2019, just as there are still villains.
Q. What is the relevance of the hero’s journey for today’s audiences?
A. The beauty of the classic stories is that they are so layered, so rich, that they provide innumerable answers and questions. Each person can find something that chimes with them, and that can change each time they approach the story with fresh ears.
Q. Odysseus has to conquer monsters and mysterious lands to return home. What have you conquered? What goal are you striving towards?
A. For years I had wanted to work in theatre but had been trapped in an unsatisfactory 9 to 5 job, feeling I couldn’t afford to leave. But at 37 years old I finally quit and went to drama school having conquered the fear of the new, the unknown and now earn my living telling stories. And listening to new ones. Never stop listening.
What a hero! Thanks again to Cameron Robertson for talking with us. We can’t wait to see Aquila Theatre’s epic performance of The Odyssey on Tuesday, October 15th in Loeb Playhouse at 7:30p. Grab your tickets to relive the classic tale.