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English Touring Theatre and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse present The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead

20 March 2015

English Touring Theatre and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse today announce their co-production of The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead. The production reunites Simon Armitage and Nick Bagnall after their recent collaborations on The Last Days of Troy and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.


Simon Armitage said “The new gods sit in Whitehall and Downing Street, no less image-obsessed and power-hungry than their ancient counterparts, and a latter-day borderless Europe forms the backdrop to Odysseus' travels, to a journey that begins at the confluence point of East and West, a place of conflict from the Siege of Troy to the present day.”

Nick Bagnall commented, “The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead is a story Simon and I have wanted to tell since we left the Greeks setting sail for Ithaca in our production ofThe Last Days of Troy. We are going to sail Odysseus home. After ten years in a stalemate stuck on a disease ridden beach with the Trojans behind their impenetrable wall we now face the open seas and a whole army of mythical creatures to knock us off course. It has been the most thrilling year for me, from my appointment as Associate Director to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and then The Odyssey with our greatest living poet.”

A high ranking government minister with a colourful past is sent on a delicate diplomatic mission to Istanbul. But when his trip ends up in a horrific bar room brawl, social media explodes and the enigmatic darling of a political party becomes Europe's most wanted man overnight. Chased by the authorities, damned by religious leaders, pursued by those looking for vengeance and head-hunted by fanatics, his Odyssey begins.

Plunged into the ancient past Odysseus must now contend with all the unworldly beings and unnatural phenomena that stand in his way.  The Cyclops, the Sirens, witches, whirlpools and flesh-eating armies must all be overcome in the struggle for survival and the long voyage back to the present day.  Back at home, with her husband missing presume dead, his wife Penelope and their young son are besieged by the press, ravenous for the full story.


The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead opens at Liverpool Everyman on 28 September, with previews from 25 September, and runs until 17 October. The production then tours to Richmond Theatre (20 – 24 October), Brighton Theatre Royal (27 – 31 October), Cambridge Arts Theatre (17 – 21 November), and Exeter Northcott Theatre (24 – 28 November).


Director of English Touring Theatre, Rachel Tackley said today, “I thought The Last Days of Troy was extraordinary and compelling, bringing ancient characters to life for modern audiences, so I leapt at the opportunity to commission Simon Armitage to finish the story.  I’m delighted to be working with him and Nick Bagnall on a new version of The Odyssey for audiences all over the country.  It’s a joy to be working with our old friends in Liverpool and to be opening it at the Everyman. We can’t wait to get started.”


Gemma Bodinetz, Artistic Director of Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse added “We are thrilled to be collaborating with English Touring Theatre on this extraordinary project. Simon Armitage is renowned for his lucid reimagining of Homer’s epic poetry and as was proved with The Last Days of Troy, his theatrical adaptation of The Iliad, he is in the most inspiring of directorial hands with our associate director Nick Bagnall. The Everyman is the perfect performance space for epic ensemble theatre and we are proud to launch The Odyssey on its maiden voyage around the country with such distinguished co-producers as English Touring Theatre.”


Simon Armitage has published nine volumes of poetry, most recently Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid (Faber, 2006) and The Not Dead (Pomona, 2008). He has won numerous awards and prizes and been shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His translation of the middle English classic poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, commissioned by Faber & Faber in the UK and Norton in the US, was published in 2007. An anthology of bird poetry, edited with Tim Dee, was published by Viking in October 2009 and his latest collection of poetry Seeing Stars was published by Faber in 2010. His dramatisation of The Odyssey, commissioned by the BBC, was broadcast on Radio 4. The book, Homer’s Odyssey – A Retelling, was published by Faber & Faber in the UK and by Norton in the US. He has written for over a dozen television films, and received an Ivor Novello Award for his song-lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings, which also won a BAFTA. His prose work includes two novels, the best-selling memoir All Points North, (Penguin 1998) which was the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year, and its follow-up, Gig.  Armitage's 2012 non-fiction book Walking Home, an account of his troubadour journey along the Pennine Way, was a Sunday Times best-seller and was shortlisted for the 2012 Portico Prize.


Associate Director of Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Nick Bagnall directs. For the company, his work includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Electric Hills. His other work includes The Last Days of Troy and Britannia Waves the Rules (Royal Exchange, Manchester), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Shakespeare’s Globe), Henry VI, Parts I, II & III (Shakespeare’s Globe/UK Tour), A Christmas Fair and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Milton Rooms, Malton), Fragile (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry), Betrayal (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), A Separate Reality (Royal Court Rough Cut), By Jeeves (Landor), Billy Liar (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Guys and Dolls (Arts Theatre Cambridge), Entertaining Mr Sloane (Trafalgar Studios), Burning Cars (Hampstead Theatre), Mongoose (Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh), Promises & Lies (Birmingham Rep.), Bolthole and ‘Low Dat (The Door, Birmingham Rep.) and The Ruffian on The Stair (Old Red Lion).

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