Theatre is listening to stories in the company of strangers. So says actor William Zappa, in his introduction to The Iliad Out Loud, a nine-hour adaptation of the epic tale of the Trojan War. He writes for four actors who read the story, script in hand, from within a white chalk circle. Two musicians, percussionist Michael Askill and oud player Hamed Sadeghi, accompany them. The Iliad Out Loud (which premiered at Sydney Festival in 2019) is part of the three-day culture binge that is Four Winds.
The Iliad Out Loudat the Four Winds Festival. Photograph © Ben Marden
For Zappa, the power of Homer’s The Iliadis in its ritual re-telling, not just around the campfire or the kitchen table, but in a public setting, amongst strangers. It shifts the emphasis of performative story-telling away from stage, and the actor into a space somewhere between the actor and the story and the audience and the reaction and the entire shared experience.
Esoteric stuff, perhaps, but when you sit in a paddock under a star-flecked sky, listening to the conversation of gods...