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Award-Winning Playwright Marcus Gardley Odysseys to Oakland

Black Odyssey at Cal Shakes is a modern retelling of Homer’s epic poem.


The Odyssey is literature’s ultimate homecoming story. For Marcus Gardley, it’s providing a literal homecoming.

Gardley, an Oakland-born, award-winning playwright, is making his California Shakespeare Theater debut this month with the West Coast premiere of Black Odyssey, a modern retelling of Homer’s epic poem in which an African American veteran returning from Afghanistan makes his way back to Oakland. (Earlier iterations of the production have taken place in Harlem, but the locale has been adjusted for an East Bay audience.) Gardley’s previous works, including The Box: A Black Comedy and The House That Will Not Stand (which premiered at Berkeley Rep in 2014), have drawn critical acclaim.

And unlike Homer’s protagonist, whom only the dog recognizes, Gardley can expect a hero’s welcome home. The play reflects all things Bay Area, from its music and cast to the examination of the African American experience, says Cal Shakes artistic director Eric Ting. “This represents the best of what Cal Shakes can do.”
Aug. 9–Sept. 3


Originally published in the August issue of San Francisco

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