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Odds Bodkin. Courtesy photo.




See Odds Bodkin perform

The Odyssey
Where: Schoodacs Coffee & Tea, 1 E. Main St., Warner, 456-3400, schoodacs.com
When: Sunday, Jan. 10, 4 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 17, 4 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 25, 4 p.m
Admission: $50 for the series
 
The Iliad
Where: Riverwalk Cafe, 35 Railroad Square, Nashua, riverwalknashua.com, 578-0200
When: Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.
Admission: $10




Timeless tales
Odds Bodkin gets epic with The Odyssey and The Iliad

01/07/16
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 When Odds Bodkin tells a story, it’s like a movie for your ears.

For his live, three-part performances of The Odyssey at Schoodacs Coffee & Tea in Warner this month — Sundays, Jan. 10 through Jan. 24, at 4 p.m. — he’ll project 37 different character voices and sound effects that mimic the wind, explosions, galloping horses, dripping water and stormy weather. And with a 12-string guitar and celtic harp, he’ll present a musical score that sets the mood — for example, when Odysseus thinks about his wife he hasn’t seen for 20 years, Bodkin will play a low, dissonant sound. When the story bursts with action, the music will become urgent.
“It just flows out. The characters all have their various personas and accents,” Bodkin said, offering a glimpse via phone with a couple words in the deep, fierce voice of Cyclops Polyphemus. “A lot of it’s improvised. … I’m kind of like the humble projector, and the audience’s imaginations are the screen.”
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer, the other being The Iliad, which Bodkin also performs in Nashua at the end of the month. Together, they are the oldest works of Western literature. While The Iliad focuses on the final weeks of the 10-year Trojan War, The Odyssey follows Greek hero Odysseus and his 10-year trek back home to Ithaca afterward.
On the journey, he meets Greek gods and goddesses, the nymph Calypso, the witch-goddess Circe, the Cyclops Polyphemus and deathly obstacles. All the while, everyone in Ithaca has assumed he’s died, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with a group of unruly suitors. 
Bodkin’s goal is to make the classic tale approachable for audiences unwilling to sit down and read the epic poem, which Bodkin thinks is dense and filled with words and descriptions modern readers find difficult to get into. But what’s remarkable about Homer’s stories, he said, is their timelessness.
The Iliad is probably the most intense war story that has ever been recorded. Even though it takes place in the Bronze Age, people were just as smart back then as they are today. And they behaved in exactly the same ways. They were just as jealous, murderous, loyal, altruistic,” he said. “And The Odyssey is a giant metaphor for a warrior coming home. … what it takes to go to war, and to see  all these terrifying things, and then to come home and become normal again. … There’s a psychological journey that has to take place.”
Plus, The Odyssey is a “honking good” adventure story, Bodkin said, with monsters, cannibals, cyclops, dragons, deadly whirlpools and the Sirens, who cause sailors’ boats to sink by luring them toward rocks with enchanting music.
Bodkin has performed these Greek tales “hundreds” of times. He knows their essence by heart, but because they’re recited, they come out different every time. 
His is the first series of its kind at the new Warner venue. Schoodacs owner Darryl Parker had sought Bodkin personally in an attempt to bring to the coffee shop what he felt was an under-utilized medium in the area. There will be space for a crowd of 30, and seats were filling fast at the time of Parker’s interview. (Though if you miss this series, you can check out Bodkin’s performance of The Iliad  at Riverwalk later this month.)
Bodkin tells stories all over the place — at libraries, at schools, from kindergarten to college, and at festivals and workshops, like this April’s New Hampshire Writers’ Day. He’s got about 100 tales up his sleeve, including an anti-bullying show called Golden Rule, and in addition to his stringed instruments, he uses a recorder and thumb piano to accompany the words. Some of his stories are re-tellings, some are original, but most are oral, with the exception of his book, The Water Mage’s Daughter, about the first young girl in the world to possess magic.
While he tells, he’ll sport dark clothes — black slacks and perhaps a black turtleneck — and at the end, a smile.
“I do it because it’s my job. And it’s fun,” Bodkin said. 





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