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AU News

Eurydice: A Tragedy in a Daughter’s Arms

February 21, 2022
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Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl presents a contemporary twist on the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

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Breathing Life into Myth 

As the day of the show moves closer, the artists work hard to bring Eurydice to life. Throughout the show’s process, the one thing that the team focused on was creating an  integrated work of art. Everything in this show has a purpose. The director of Eurydice, Robert  Homer-Drummond, stated, “We want the audience to come and be immersed in art for an  evening…that has been an intentional purpose from the beginning, including the lobby and the  dance in the preshow.”  

The entire cast hopes to enrapture the audience for an evening through a tale of grief and love and purpose. “Especially during this time of COVID, there have been many limits on art which is hard,” said actress Astro Alford. “I’d like the audience to go away with a feeling of  hope that you can look at your griefs and pains and know you aren’t alone in that. Even if it doesn’t work out the way you want and you are burdened with great grief, you can walk away with hope. To know that they are not alone.” 

The Myth and the Play 

In the original Greek myth, the audience follows the musician Orpheus in his journey to the underworld to save his love, Eurydice. Hades offers him a chance to bring her to the overworld. Orpheus must walk out of the underworld with Eurydice behind him, never looking at her or she will disappear. For various reasons, depending on the version, Orpheus turns around. Eurydice is lost to death forever.  

The playwright of Eurydice, Sarah Ruhl, takes a different perspective, writing the myth from Eurydice’s point of view. During the time she wrote the play, Ruhl was facing the death of her father. As a result, Ruhl also adds a new character, Eurydice’s father. Ruhl showcases multiple forms of love through playing with parallels and creating a story beyond romance.

Actress Astro Alford, who plays one of the stones, had a lot to say about Eurydice, the show’s heroine. 

“She is young and vulnerable and afraid, but I think she is so very human…she can’t fully understand [Orpheus’s] love of music but she meets it with understanding. In the original myth, she doesn’t get to shine as much. I love that this gives more life to her. She has a story. The myth is not complete without Eurydice.”  

Eurydice faces difficult choices throughout the show and each of those choices leads her down a  path that goes beyond the myth that originated this tale.  

“The thing that stuck with me is the division and mirroring of death and life,” said Josh Center, the understudy for Orpheus. “What is the afterlife like? Sarah Ruhl did such a wonderful job. It’s wacky and sad and amazing all at once. She captures it, but also lets your imagination wander.” This show uses language and the scenery and the costumes to link together parallels between life and death. What does it mean to love? What does it mean to die?  

One Word 

Love is the core of this play. Orpheus expresses his love and devotion through facing trials to reach Eurydice in the underworld. Eurydice expresses her love through patience, despite not understanding her lover’s devotion to music. Her father expresses his love for Eurydice through the sacrifices he makes to ensure her happiness. So, naturally, when asked about the play’s meaning, Alexis Morehead, the actress playing Eurydice, responded with “love”…but there is  more to it than that.  

“At first, I immediately thought of ‘love.’ As I’ve built upon the character, however, and really kind of come to an understanding of why Sarah Ruhl wrote what she wrote and like why she did it in particular orders. I think the word changed in context…as in because of where you come from. It explains who you are sometimes. For me, it’s about context. The thing in your life that gives you direction. I think that’s what Eurydice’s father tries to give her.”  

With the addition of Eurydice’s father, this show builds upon love and focuses on the human  experience—love in many forms and choices made out of love. 

Fate is More Than It Seems 

Throughout the process, the cast and crew of Eurydice have shown nothing but passion  and love for this tale. Leaning away from the Greek myth, this tale captures more than love. It  delves into grief, choice, and the humanity of it all. Death and life are parallels. Choices and  lines are parallels. Fate is more than it seems. 

Join the South Carolina School of the Arts and the Department of Theatre & Dance in  their sold-out rendition of Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. A myth in modern times. A tragedy in a  daughter’s arms. 

Article by By Sharice Somero

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