The Odyssey Project is a collaborative theater process between youth from a juvenile detention facility in Santa Barbara county and undergraduate students from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Using the template of Homer's Odyssey, the participants gather on the university campus to explore the mythic elements in their lives in order to reconstruct the epic poem in their own voices. The project leads to a public performance at a local theater. Everyone on this creative journey is a hero or heroine. The project is designed to honor youth in identifying their heroic life mission and map a course of action. It employs theater arts as a strategy for inspiring life affirming choices.
In doing so, it seeks to demonstrate how artistic cooperation transcends class, racial and social barriers; and how art, with rehabilitation, serves as an alternative to incarceration and penalty.