La Odisea – The Odyssey

Maidment Theatre, Auckland

08/03/2011 - 12/03/2011

Auckland Arts Festival 2011

Production Details

One of the best shows of the [Ibero-American] festival … Penelope weaves and hopes, besieged by opportunists who are corrupt as ever, while her husband Odysseus flees fantastic islands and countries, where the monsters also include those you know well… 

“With a beautiful tone and a poetic, scholarly drama, Brie speaks of exclusion, identity, loss, absence, and those consequences irreparable, irremediable.” – Pablo Golero, La Nacion (Argentina) 

In this mise-en-scene from exciting Bolivian company Teatro de los Andes, Ulysses is a Latino immigrant seeking to return to his home and family in Bolivia to recover what he has lost after years of living abroad working in menial jobs. The performance parallels the tortuous return of Homer’s Ulysses to Ithaca after the Trojan War.  

However, our Bolivian Ulysses’ return is tarnished by discrimination, racism, classism and other societal prejudices. People judge him by the work he did while abroad; a re-creation, according to the play’s director, of the lives of many returning immigrants in the Bolivia of today: exclusion, confrontation and revolution.

La Odisea is a wonderful, cinematic piece of storytelling on a deceptively inventive set, with elements of Bolivian music and a talented cast demonstrating the unrestricted imagination that is a hallmark of Latin American performing arts and literature. It recently performed to sell-out audiences at the Ibero-American Festival in Bogota.


Teatro de los Andes was founded with the aim of training actors, poets and artists who share a desire to create work that is ‘a theatre of mood and memory’. Its activities are focussed on building a bridge between western theatrical technique and Andean cultural sources, expressed through music, festivals and rituals.  

In 1995, Teatro de los Andes created the magazine El Tonto del Pueblo (The Village Idiot).  The company runs acting workshops and promotes meetings between artists of various disciplines. Teatro de los Andes brings theatre to public plazas, universities and villages. The company has performed to great acclaim at international arts festivals, and has been instrumental in putting Bolivia on the performing arts map


César Brie settled in Boliva in 1991 with the desire to create a socio-theatrical structure that would create a space for the formation of ‘actor-poets’. With Paolo Nalli, and Naira Gonzalez he formed the Teatro de los Andes in an old farm in Yotala, Sucre, the capital city of the province of Chuquisaca.

César Brie has acted in countless theatrical performances, has directed over thirty plays and has written short stories, poems and twenty-five plays. His work with Teatro de los Andes has been performed at the biggest festivals in the world.  

2hrs 45min, incl. interval

Powerful retelling of Homer’s epic engrossing from start to finish

Review by Janet McAllister 10th Mar 2011

Teatro de Los Andes, based in Bolivia, offered to stage their "earthquake play" here instead of La Odisea, but were turned down for logistical reasons. As it happens, much echoes the ongoing Christchurch tragedy anyway, in this powerful, angry retelling of the full Odyssey, which is successfully reset to chart immigrant labour travelling north and returning in the present day Americas.

Characters long for absent lovers, children and parents, not knowing if they are dead; they ache in indefinite exile; and a joyfully-anticipated homecoming becomes complex and difficult. But human agency – politics, poverty and war – rather than natural disaster is the main reason forOdisea misery. [More
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