CULTURE: Malachi's Sparse Odyssey; Malachi Bogdanov Talks to Terry Grimley about His New Take on Homer

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Byline: Terry Grimley

Malachi Bogdanov, a British director based in Italy in recent years, is introducing Homer to James Bond in an improvised theatre space at Millennium Point

Malachi Bogdanov is facing an interesting challenge. How do you convert the huge, echoey foyer of Millennium Point into something resembling a theatre?

His adaptation of Homer's Odyssey, called From Ithaca with Love, has its premiere there from May 31 as a centrepiece of the New Generation Arts Festival, a new UCE-led initiative to celebrate Birmingham as a breeding ground for creative talent.

The production is produced by Birmingham School of Acting and features a cast of ten Birmingham-trained actors as well as an original score by Birmingham Conservatoire-trained Greek composer George-Emmanuel Lazaridis.

Bogdanov, a British director who has been based in Italy in recent years, has directed several previous shows for BSA.

"I've taken actors from this school to work in shows I've done in Italy and Germany," he says.

"For this show we auditioned in Birmingham and London to find actors who had graduated from institutions in Birmingham. The cast we've ended up with is really good.

"You're always a bit concerned about having a whole cast of people you've never worked with in case there's a bad apple or two, but they're all good and they're all getting behind the ideas."

The show is a contemporary take on Homer with a nod, as its title might suggest, to James Bond.

"When I read The Odyssey for the first time I thought it was like the first road movie ever written - an exciting story with a beginning, a middle and an end.

"There are parts of the original story that correspond to what we know from Bond films, so our protagonist Ulysses is a James Bond character, the sirens are the beautiful women and Poseidon is the typical baddie."

Though the setting is updated, the translation being used is Samuel Butler's, which is about 90 years old. …