Odysseus Travels to Camp Pendleton

by Josh Feinman

Los Angeles, California

     Over my 12 years working with the company I have been "inspired" by each and every performance. A performance at Camp Pendleton was exceptionally inspirational.  Back in 2005 "Voyage of Odysseus" performed at Camp Pendleton for the children of recently deployed Marines. The base is so big, it has its own school district. I remember at the main security gate, an armed Marine asked me about my plastic sword, small wooden ship, and 9 foot mast. The mission cleared security.

     After driving several miles on the highly restricted base, I arrived at the the Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary School. Abby Tetenbaum and I met briefly with the principal, who informed us that....'Most of her students had a parent recently deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan'....'Our students are used to that kind of stress, she said, I just wanted you to know'.

Soon after, the parents, teachers and K-2nd settled in for the performance. "Voyage of Odysseus" is interactive. I begin by randomly selecting audience members to come up on stage. They are cast as my rowdy crew of sailors, one is my brave son Telemachus, and another teacher or parent is chosen to be my lovely wife, Penelope. Once the cast is set the journey can begin.

Before sailing across the sea, Odysseus takes pause to bid his wife and son farewell. He tells his son, Telemachus, to be brave and to look out for his mother. Then to his wife, Penelope, he promises to return home soon. He ensures her (with a Queens' kiss on the hand) that she will always be in his heart and on his mind until the day he returns home from battle. Typically at this part of the show the students can't hold back their giggles, and the teacher or parent playing my wife, Penelope, is in full blush. On this day, a silence hung over the room. Penelope held back real tears. Telemachus hung on my every word. It was a moment I'll remember forever. This was their story, and I was telling it.

     I didn't know until after the show that the parent I randomly chose to be my wife, Penelope, hadn't heard from her husband in several weeks. The young boy chosen to be my son, Telemachus, would never see his real father again. He wasn't coming home. The boy’s real mother watched the show from the aisle.

     To answer the question "How have you been inspired by a theatrical performance through Enrichment Works?" is easy. Over my 12 years working with the company I have been "inspired" by each and every performance. The performance at Camp Pendleton was exceptionally inspirational because it was a unique opportunity to give back to those who give so much. The impact of arts in education is immeasurable. I witness it every show.

Josh Feinman is an actor who portrays Odyssues in and is the playwright of the Enrichment Works’ production “Voyage of Odysseus.”

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