But the Odyssey’s Bundy/Santa Monica home was sold out from under us in 1989 and converted to a Blockbuster Video store! Determined not to “go dark” for more than three or four months, the OTE scrambled around desperately seeking new quarters and, finally, with the invaluable help of then board president Dan Attias and Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky found the present building, a city-owned, formerly used to manufacture gas tanks. Again, some fast work from volunteers under the direction of new technical director/builder Duncan Mahoney and the generosity of donors allowed the OTE to open one of its three spaces with Faith Healer in 1990 amidst the two other unfinished theatres and a lobby full of sheetrock dust. Though even to this day, the conversion of the building is a work-in-process, it has served to be functional enough to present some of the most outstanding theatre work seen in Los Angeles. under the aegis of artistic director Ron Sossi, associate artistic director Beth Hogan, production managers Lucy Pollak and Jason Loewith, literary manager Sally Essex-Lopresti, and for the last decade, board president Sol Rabin. Notable productions have included Speed-the-Plow, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Tea, Road to Nirvana, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Awake and Sing!, Kokoro, Bremen Freedom, Rhinoceros, The Greeks (parts 1 and 2), Taking Sides, Times Like These, Among the Thugs, Tartuffe (with Circus Theatricals), Far Away, two revivals of The Threepenny Opera, Fences, Desire Under the Elms, The Brig, The Arsonists, A Man’s a Man, and A Song at Twilight.
But key to our work in this last residency, in addition to our long-standing relationship with Steven Berkoff and our attack on the entire Brecht canon, has been the creation of KOAN, a resident group of six-to-eight committed actors, intent on meeting every two-three years to create a unique “devised work.” These works have been The Faust Projekt, Kafka Thing, Buddha’s Big Nite!, Sliding Into Hades and Theater in the Dark (parts 1 and 2).
Highlights of the last few years have included A Number, Bach at Leipzig, Adding Maching: A Musical , Ivanov (with Evidence Room), Way to Heaven, Freud’s Last Session, My Sister, Sunset Baby, No Man’s Land, A Steady Rain (later moved to the Guthrie Theatre and the Alliance Theatre), Koan’s Oedipus Machina, Beckett 5, Dance of Death, Freud’s Last Session, The Arsonists, Annapurna (with Evidence Room, later moved Off-Broadway for the New Group) A Delicate Balance, The Hairy Ape, Lysistrata Unbound and Tempest Redux (with Not Man Apart), Acapulco (later moved Off-Broadway), Bad Jews and Punk Rock.
Then there were our offerings of 2019 (all part of a 60’s retrospective): Faith Healer, Loot, Sam Shepard’s The Unseen Hand, Gertrude Stein’s In Circles, Fefu and Her Friends and The Serpent.
Through the years the OTE has enjoyed collaborative relationships with The Goethe Institut, Padua Hills Playwrights, New York’s New Federal Theatre, the residencies of Jack & Jeannine Stehlin’s Circus Theatricals (now New American Theatre) and in most recent years, Bart DeLorenzo’s Evidence Room. Curator/producer Barbara Mueller-Wittmann and producer Beth Hogan started Dance at the Odyssey in 2017, which has grown into one of the largest independent dance festivals in Los Angeles. We’ve also been pleased to host three Polish companies, two German companies, and four residencies with Ireland’s Fishamble: The New Play Company, with the incomparable work of actor/writer Pat Kinevane. And then there’s our longterm relationship with Britain’s unique Steven Berkoff and our production of eight of his works, many as world premieres.
Artists who have been vital to the history of the Odyssey in terms of their long-term commitment have included Norbert Weisser, Alan Abelew, Laurie O’Brien, Sam Anderson, Beth Hogan, Vincent Caristi, Franklin Seales, Frank Condon, Charlie Robinson, Jack Stehlin, Diana Cignoni, Denise Blasor, Bill Castellino, Allan Miller, Shannon Holt, Orson Bean, Marilyn Fox, Elina DeSantos, Bart DeLorenzo, John Difusco, John Achorn, Anna Nicholas, John Farmanesh-Bocca and so many more! (Apologies to the many long-term artists we must certainly have missed.)
New works world premiered at the Odyssey that have become staples in the American Theatre have included plays by Lisa Loomer, Mark Medoff, Wally Shawn, L. Trey Wilson, Raymond Barry, Velina Hasu Houston, Charlayne Woodard, John O’Keefe, Robert Coover, Suzan Lori-Parks, Gary Trudeau/Liz Swados, David Mamet, John Difusco, Ron Sossi/Frank Condon and the many premieres of Steven Berkoff.
Ron Sossi, Beth Hogan and Sally Essex-Lopresti continue to produce “and the beat goes on,” as OTE ever strives to bring you the best mix of new American plays, hot projects from the contemporary international theatre scene, and the innovative imaginative treatment of world classics.