We Players Present The Odyssey, Aboard the Last of the Scow Schooners

by Owen James Burke

Right now through November 18th at the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco, Homer’s classic Odyssey has been commandeered by Ava Roy and We Players.

The ship, Alma, was built in 1891 and is the last of its kind, and although the vessel may not be terribly related in design to Odysseus’ ship, the rigging she bears looks as if it would require a set of Greek gods to operate her.

Alma is a traditional scow schooner, with a flat bottom with an exceptionally strong and sturdy hull, for navigating shallow waters in the Sacramento Delta and other shallow creeks on San Francisco Bay so that when it grounded on a shoal or in the mud, there’d be no damage to the hull. She carried cargo under sail until 1918, at which point she was dismasted and turned into a salt barge.

Then in 1926, she was fitted for gasoline power, and repurposed yet again as an oyster dredger on the bay.  Alma continued on oyster dredging until 1956, when she was purchased by the State of California and turned into a museum. Although scow schooners were very popular in shallow bays and river systems all over the United States, she is the only that has survived afloat.

And so once again, Alma embarks upon a new career. We Players will cover books nine through twelve of the Odyssey, which include Circe, the Cyclops and the sirens. The stage, as Roy has planned it, is physically demanding just to be on, let alone act upon, which ensures theatrics won’t be left out.

So if you’re in San Francisco during the next month, be sure to swing by the Hyde Street Pier and see if you can’t get yourself a ticket, click here for more, or call (415) 547-0189.

*sfweekly, second image from wiki*

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