Written by Trevor Allen
Directed by Laura Moreno
Produced by Rob Melrose and Victoria Beauray Sagady
In the fall of 2020, photos and videos of the 91-year-old Charles Krohn teaching The Odyssey by zoom to students at the University of St. Thomas went viral. Charles had been a long-time member of the Alley’s Resident Acting Company and we took his real-life story as inspiration and commissioned playwright Trevor Allen to create a virtual, fictional work for Charles to star in. Please enjoy Charles Krohn in The Odyssey of Professor Blume.
FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
WELCOME TO THE ODYSSEY OF PROFESSOR BLUME!
I’m so excited for you to experience our most recent project for Alley@Home just in time to prepare you for our production of Derek Walcott’s The Odyssey. After the success of our digital season in 2020-21, we wanted to figure out how to keep our filmed projects alive even while we went back to being fully onstage on our Hubbard and Neuhaus stages.
Charles Krohn has been a beloved member of the Resident Acting Company (now Emeritus) for decades. At the bottom of this webpage is a link to my interview with Charles which gives a great sense of his career, his incredible mind, and delightful sense of humor. For much of Charles’s acting career, he has also taught at the University of St. Thomas and one of his favorite works to teach is Homer’s Odyssey. During the darkest days of the pandemic, my heart was warmed by a photo Charles’s daughter Julia Krohn (currently playing Kathy in our production of Cowboy Bob) took of Charles teaching The Odyssey to his students over Zoom. There was something so compelling and heartening about a 91-year old professor making the pivot to online teaching during the height of the lockdown to teach the poem that he is most passionate about: the over 2500 year old poem The Odyssey. For me, it symbolized how the stories we tell each other endure even in the most challenging circumstances. This poem has endured the burning of the library of Alexandria, the dark ages, plagues, and now a global pandemic. Julia’s photo went viral on the internet and then was featured on Good Morning America.
I commissioned my longtime collaborator and friend Trevor Allen (The Creature, Chain Reactions, Tenders in the Fog) to write a play for Charles to be filmed for our Alley@Home program. The idea was that the play would be about a professor teaching The Odyssey online during the pandemic, but like Chekhov’s short play On the Harmfulness of Tobacco the idea is that through the lectures we actually learn as much about the teacher himself as we do the course he is teaching. Now Charles is not Professor Blume of course, but the story that Trevor weaves in with his analysis of The Odyssey is equally compelling. What excites me the most, however, is that it serves as the perfect companion piece to Derek Walcott’s The Odyssey and can either be watched before you see the play to prepare or after you see the play as a way of getting more deeply into it.
Like Charles, The Odyssey has been an important part of my life since I first read it when I was in my twenties. It is something I keep coming back to and I even learned Ancient Greek so that I could read it in the original. It is endlessly fascinating and for every moment I spend getting to know it better, I feel I’m rewarded a thousandfold. We are getting ready to announce our Alley All New Festival and I don’t want to scoop myself, but I will give the hint that we are doing a reading of a new play that has yet another intriguing Odyssey tie-in.
I hope you enjoy the time you spend online with Professor Blume and find it as richly rewarding as I do.
Fa20 Classics 101: The Odyssey
Not on campus due to COVID
Virtual – by appointment only
The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fitzgerald
Alley Theatre’s production of The Odyssey by Derek Walcott,
running March 24-April 23, 2023
Alpha – A Goddess Intervenes
Beta – A Heroes’ Son Awakens
Gamma – The Lord of the Western Approaches
Delta – The Red-Haired King and his Lady
Epsilon – The Sweet Nymph and the Open Sea
Zeta – Drowning in the Wine Dark Sea
Eta – Gardens and Firelight
Theta – The Songs of the Harper
Iota – New Coasts and Poseidon’s Son
Kappa – The Grace of the Witch
Lambda – A Gathering of Shades
Mu – Sea Perils and Defeat
Nu – One More Strange Island
Xi – Hospitality in the Forest
Omicron – How They Came to Ithaka
Pi – Father and Son
Rho – The Beggar at the Manor
Sigma – Blows and a Queen’s Beauty
Tau – Recognitions and a Dream
Upsilon – Signs and a Vision
Phi – The Test of the Bow
Chi – Death in the Great Hall
Psi – The Trunk of the Olive Tree
Omega – Warriors, Farewell
A Conversation between Charles Krohn and Alley Artistic Director Rob Melrose
Cast and Creative Team
Trevor Allen is a San Francisco Bay Area based playwright. Productions include: The Creature (Black Box Theatre Company, Bay Area Critic’s Circle Award, directed by Rob Melrose) Lolita Roadtrip (San Jose Stage Company), Tenders in the Fog (San Jose Stage Company, Dean Goodman Award, Original Script), Working for the Mouse! (Impact Theatre), 49 Miles (Crowded Fire Theater), Chain Reactions, (Theatre of Yugen, CAFÉ and The Cutting Ball). He received a San Francisco Arts Commission grant for his play, Zoo Logic. He is a Bay Area Playwrights Festival alumni, The Mistaken Variations. His play, One Stone/Einstein (Cinnabar Theatre) was developed through their “Incubator” and “In the Rough” programs. Two of his plays have received the San Francisco Fringe Festival’s “Best of the Fringe” awards. He received PlayGround’s Emerging Playwright award, Playwriting Fellowship and Alumni full length play commissions including, Golden Gate Fair. He is a former playwright in residence at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. His book, Working for the Mouse and other plays is a collection of five of his plays (EXIT Press). He holds a BA in Theatre from UCLA and an MFA in Creative Writing from SFSU. He is a member of the Dramatist’s Guild of America.
Directed and Costume Design by
Laura Moreno is so excited to share this project with the Alley Theatre community and audience. She’s had the pleasure of working on a number of Alley projects which include directing Alley@Home’s El Chuco Town Forever and assistant directing Born with Teeth. Laura is a multi-faceted theatre artist and arts leader, known for her work as a producer, film and stage director, arts administrator, and costume designer. She received her MFA in Theatre, MA in Arts Leadership, and BFA in Acting from the University of Houston. She is an Ambassador for the Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) and a founding member of the Houston PAAL chapter, as well as member of the El Zócalo Advisory Committee. Other projects include: Co-founder of Beans & Rice Media Arts, ¡Que Onda! LatinX Theatre Collective, LatinX Theatre Commons, and Co-fellow for DiverseWorks Project Freeway Fellowship. She’s also the Mama of a little monster named Izzy.
Charles Krohn is a member of Resident Acting Company Emeritus at the Alley Theatre and has appeared in August: Osage County, Our Town, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Othello, Treasure Island, Subject to Fits, Much Ado About Nothing, Witness for the Prosecution, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Twelfth Night, among others. Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, an Alley collaboration with the University of Houston. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at The Desert Inn in Las Vegas. Locally, title role in Barrymorefor Theatre LaB. All Over, A Kind of Alaska, The Collection, A Delicate Balance, and A Man from Nebraska for Stages Repertory Theatre. Firs in The Cherry Orchard for Classical Theatre Company. Captain Shotover in Heartbreak House for Main Street Theatre. Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Claudius in Hamlet, and the title role in King Lear for Houston Shakespeare Festival. Over forty productions for Theatre Under the Stars, including Oliver!, Camelot, A Little Night Music, and Beauty and the Beast. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
Cinematography and Editing
Victoria Beauray Sagady
Victoria Beauray Sagady returns to the Alley after making her debut as Projection Designer for Vietgone. Broadway Credits: All the Way (Drama Desk Nomination), The Great Society, Leap of Faith, and Memphis. Off-Broadway credits: Stop.Reset, Mound Builders, Emotional Creature (Signature Theater), By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (2nd Stage). Her designs have been seen at The Goodman, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Rep, Guthrie Theater, and internationally in China and Europe.