Telemachus Clay At Toquet

In the 1964 play “Telemachus Clay,” a young man leaves the East Coast for California.  He needs to find himself.

In real life Jahari Dodd left California 4 years ago, also to find himself.  He ended up in Westport, as an ABC Scholar.

Now he’s directing “Telemachus Clay” — a Staples Players studio production that debuts this weekend at Toquet Hall.

Jahari Dodd

“A young person’s journey spoke to me,” Jahari said of his reaction when Players director David Roth showed him the script.  The colorful cast of characters; the play’s ’60s sensibility; the funky yet linear story; the concept of no set, no real makeup, minimal costumes — all impelled Jahari to stage the show.

Toquet — where people sit in chairs and couches — is a perfect venue for “Telemachus.”  “When you walk in, you know it’s not your average show,” says Jahari.  “It’s like a place where audiences would watch this play in the 1960s.

“All the action goes out to the audience,” Jahari explains.  “The actors are part of the crowd.  Characters run out the back, and come from the fly.  Everyone in the audience should feel a Telemachus-like connection, because all of us should go on a journey to find ourselves.”

As a director, Jahari’s biggest challenge has been to get his actors as loose and fun as the show is.  “It’s hard to pull a spiritual experience out of a high school kid,” he notes.  “But the cast has gone out of their comfort zone.  And I think the audience will feel as free and loose as the cast.”

Glenn Leo and Rachel Samuels rehearse. (Photo by Jillian Bosshardt)

Glenn Leo, as Telemachus, “embodies the young man who’s searching, but knows he lost,” Jahari says.

Jahari is excited to have Whitney Andrews play The Prophet.  Though written for a male, the role seems perfect for her.  “My mother is a pastor, very open and exuberant,” Jahari says.  “I saw the same free-flowing child of the ’60s in Whitney.  The audience will really be drawn to her.”

Jahari — who in addition to directing has been a dancer, TV star and all-around goodwill ambassador for Staples — graduates in June.  “Telemachus Clay,” he says, is “the best way for me to give back to a theater program that’s given so much to me.”

Four years ago, Jahari Dodd came East.  Here he has found a home, resounding success — and himself.

(“Telemachus Clay” will be performed at Toquet Hall, 58 Post Road East — access through the alley to Jesup Road — this Friday [March 12] at 8 p.m., and Saturday [March 13] at 6 and 8:30 p.m.  Tickets are available at the door, and for Staples students during lunch periods this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.)

8 responses to “Telemachus Clay At Toquet

  1. This is hysterical, because back in the day, I performed in this very same play at Staples! I still remember some of the dialogue. (I had four or five parts, but was basically second chair from the right!) … And Dan, I don’t remember us getting ANY publicity from you! 🙂

  2. The Dude Abides

    Once again, the ABC house proves to be a valuable resource to this community and Staples. What a fine program! And they have
    a fund raiser coming up.

  3. Who benefits more from ABC….the scholars or our community?

    Dream Event fundraiser is the end of this month (3/27).

  4. I’m so very much looking forward to this production. 🙂

  5. This coverage and these comments affirm my decision to send Jahari off with prayers and pocket change to become more of himself. Thanks to Mr. Roth for teaching more than theatre. Thanks to the Westport Community for investing in a program that invests in strong young men. (See you at the Dream Event at the end of the month.) To Jahari, Cast and Crew — Break a Leg!

  6. Thank YOU, RevSisRaedorah, for sharing Jahari with the Westport community. You have clearly raised a wonderful young man, who epitomizes the power, hope and amazing potential of today’s youth! We have loved watching him grace the Staples HS stage for four years, and look forward to watching him rock the world!

  7. Anthony L. V. Kendrick

    Congratulations, Jahari one of your many highest achievements you have done and many forthcoming. I have always believed in you and know God will continue to bless you. Rev. Raedorah, my hats off to you for training up our next media giant. Sincerely,

  8. Rev. Virginia Brown

    Jahari, All of us at WPC are so proud of you. You have taken your God-given gifts and used them to the benefit of others. I have been the newcomer, but have witnessed your growth each time you come home to visit. I know your Mom is beaming! May you continue to use what you have learned and what you have been given. Blessings to you,
    Virginia Brown