Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Space = New Show

The original UVU production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice was staged in the Noorda Theatre – a black box where the audience was so close, you almost felt you were in the story. The remount of Eurydice at KCACTF has moved the show into a traditional proscenium stage space; fixed seats on a raked plane, a curtained stage viewed through a picture-box frame.
How does changing spaces change the show? Does the set change? Do the actors have to act differently? They answer is definitely yes! Except for the text, it changes almost everything! Adjustments need to be made to the set; actor’s need to reach an audience that is suddenly much farther away; it even changes the mood and feel of the production.

Kyle Oram, the actor playing Orpheus, said, “Rehearsing for a larger space has been a really new experience.  It's nice to be able to make bigger choices.”

The director, Lisa Hagen, said, “"Initially it was a scary thought, because we had created an intimate and sober tone in a small space. Not to mention they'd never had to project those lines at such a volume! Moving the show meant changing the audience's spatial and emotional relationship to the world they were seeing. The proscenium implies a distance we had never anticipated. To adjust, we have re-imagined the tone into something more vibrant and playful, and the results have actually helped to create new moments of intimacy and 'smallness' within the much larger space."

So it’s a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity – one that Eurydice’s cast and crew have grabbed onto! Don’t miss the remount this weekend at Mountain View High School, Thursday and Saturday at 7:30. It’s a whole new show!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Introducing... Our Newest Stone!

Welcome to Kaitlyn Lamb our newest Stone!

In taking the show to KCACTF, we had to replace one of our cast members. We were sad to loose Amber Cummings, who was so wonderful as the maiden Stone.  We’ve been lucky to get Kaitlyn Lamb to join the Eurydice team to be the new Stone. It’s a big challenge to ask someone to step into an existing show and only two weeks before opening night too! Here’s what Kaitlyn had to say about her experience so far:

I was super excited when I made the show because I remember watching it and thinking this play is crazy awesome. I had never seen anything like it and I'm just so happy to now be in it. The cast is amazing and I felt totally welcomed in by everyone. It was a bit challenging to jump into the play because we only had two weeks to work on it. It's looking great now and I can't wait for us to go to KCACTF and rock it.  

If you’ve seen the show, you know the Stones are one of the more unusual and compelling parts of the play. I asked some questions of Jessamyn Svensson, who plays one of the Stones about the intricacies of playing a Stone:

Jess in performance of Eurydice

As an actor, how have you approached the role of a stone? What has been its biggest challenges?

I approached this role by creating a character through my own history and life experiences. The most important thing for me about this role is keeping as emotionally honest as I can because the story is too important to be lost in over analyzing or thinking too much about it.

How has the director's concept of the stones as the Crone, Matron, Maiden Fates or Norns affected the role and the play for you?
As the crone, at first it was difficult to understand how to portray that without resorting to stereotype, it became more important to show how long my character has been in the underworld and what that meant. Was I more disconnected, was I more angry and bitter? 

 What purpose do the stones hold in the play? Why do you think they are in the play?
The stones are a throwback to old Greek plays. The chorus used to narrate offstage deaths and stuff. The stones in this show however, represent the stages of acceptance of our own mortality (if that makes sense). We still narrate, but it's more a stylistic choice than anything else I think.  

Do you think having all female stones significantly changes the play?

Yes, the female presence in the play I think places the attention and focus onto the relationships that Eurydice has with her father and husband, the fact that we are all women playing stones makes US relate a little more and think about our own relationships we had with the men in our lives before we died.

What stone symbolism is in the play? What does it say to you?

"Stone" for me is symbolic of how we as humans desire to be when dealing with pain and loss. We try and be stoney in our emotions and expression. It's a natural defense mechanism. So when we tell Eurydice to "act like a stone" because "being sad is not allowed" it's because that's how we dealt with our own pain.
Thanks to Jessamyn and Kaitlyn for sharing their thoughts – and thanks to the whole cast and crew – we’re excited to see the show this weekend at Mountain View High School: Thursday and Saturday at 7:30.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Moving Through The Elements with Eurydice

James Al-Shamma in his book, Sarah Ruhl: A Critical Study of the Plays, looks at Eurydice through the four elements: fire, air, water and earth. He says the play makes a downward arc from the highest to the lowest and assigns the following meaning and people to the elements:

Fire: Art or the artistic temperament.
This is Orpheus. He is passionate. He offers Eurydice “the sky and the stars,” and Eurydice associates him with the moon. You might say his head is in the clouds.
Air: Life
Air occupies the space below fire. Air is breath and breath is life. The Stones teach that the language of the dead is silent – like dirt, like pores. Much of life in the play is connected with language – singing, speaking, memories and stories – all of which the Stones discourage. The Shakespeare quote Father reads to Eurydice has King Lear comparing himself and Cordelia to birds in a cage. “Eurydice and her father, also suffer as trapped creatures of the air.”[1] Air most describes Eurydice and her Father.
Water: Grieving and Forgetting
Water is seen and heard and referenced throughout the entire play. Orpheus grieves for Eurydice through a dream where the lovers fall from the sky into a lake of salty tears; Eurydice is always thirsty; the Stones weep. And in some of the most iconic moments of the play, water is the cause and metaphor of forgetting. The Stones fit here; they are the guardians and supervisors of forgetting.
Earth: Death
Under water is earth. The Nasty Interesting Man and the Lord of the Underworld are both found here. The N/I Man is associated with farming with big hands like potatoes that can carry a cow in labor. The Lord of the Underworld grows downward like a turnip. He promised a wedding with a dirt-filled orchestra.
We see the downward arc of Eurydice three times throughout the play: In the opening scene Orpheus describes how Eurydice’s hair will become an instrument that will carry her into the air, to which Eurydice asks, won’t I fall when the song is over? Orpheus replies that the water-filled clouds will soften her fall. Then Eurydice falls to her death from a high-rise apartment, down 600 stairs to the Underworld. Lastly, we have Orpheus’ dream, in which the lovers topple off of Mt. Olympus. This time the clouds instead of cushioning their fall, are sharp-edged and cutting. They land in a salty lake.
Looking at the story through the four elements is intriguing. It brings new symbols and threads to the conversation. Maybe all our journeys arc through the four elements: the passion of youth, learning the art of living through the middle years, the grieving and then forgetting (finding peace?) of old age and then finally… death. Maybe they are the seasons and threads of life.

[1] Al-Shamma, James. Sarah Ruhl: A Critical Study of the Plays. P24

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Eurydice Hits the Road!

No, it's not another journey to the underworld; Eurydice is heading to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 8 at Weber State University! And the Dear Eurydice Project is going too!

If you could write one last letter to someone you’ve lost,
what would you say?

In February, UVU Theatre Department will be remounting Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl at the Kennedy Center Region 8 Theatre Festival. The play portrays the ancient Greek story of Orpheus’ famous trek into the Underworld to bring Eurydice back from the dead. Letters passed between the world of the living and the dead play a prominent role in the story.

Call for Letters

As part of the production, an art instillation in the lobby will be re-created from letters written to lost loves and we want a letter from you!

Letters to… anyone or anything you’ve loved and lost.

Letters from… you, of course. Anonymity is encouraged and please include where you’re from.

Letters on… stationary, postcards, emails, scraps of paper… anything up to one page in length.

Letters containing… words, poems, photos, doodles… anything that expresses your feelings.

Letters delivered to… Dear Eurydice Department of Theatrical Arts, UVU MS 234, 800 W. University Parkway, Orem, UT 84058-5999,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cast Interview: Aubrey Bench and Kyle Oram

Here's the complete interview with Aubrey and Kyle - a piece which appeared in the Noorda Theatre's Sharing Stages:

What is so important about the look? Why is it the climax of the story (both original myth and play)?
A: Everything depends on that moment; it's truly a moment between and life and death.
K: When Orpheus turns and looks at Eurydice he kind of seals their fate.  The Major Dramatic question is settled, he's not going to get her back.  She's gone forever.   
Why do you think Orpheus looks in the original myth?
A: In the original myth, Orpheus looks back because he is unsure and he doesn't trust that Eurydice is behind him.
K: To me the Greek myth portrays Orpheus' glance as coming from a place of desire, or impatience.  As if he simply couldn't wait another second to see her.
Why do you think Eurydice initiates the look in the play?
K: Something that interests me in understanding their relationship is the fact that Eurydice's father died, and Orpheus never knew him.  I think that can be difficult for a young man.  It's almost as if he's responsible to fill two roles.  I think Eurydice initiates the look because she wanted to go back to her father.  It's a sudden decision, the kind of decision that is made all at once. 
What makes Orpheus and Eurydice’s relationship wonderful? What makes it complex?
A: What makes Orpheus and Eurydice's relationship wonderful is also what it makes it complex: they are opposite in many ways. Their different interests complement each other and that's what they love about each other, but these same differences sometimes causes tension between them.
K: I think their are some very good things going on in their relationship.  Something that interests me is how well they know each other.  Orpheus says that they've, "known each other for centuries."  He knows how much she hates oatmeal, she her last letter to him demonstrates a mature relationship.  When it comes down to it, I think that their marriage could have worked.  They simply made the wrong mistakes at the wrong time. 
As an actor, what has been your biggest challenge regarding this relationship?
A: The biggest challenge has been understanding how to portray the complexity of their relationship. At first the relationship was very 'lovey dovey' and superficial, but over the rehearsal process it became deeper and more mature.
K: My biggest challenge has been connecting with the emotions associated with loss.  It's hard to accurately reflect what a person goes through in these kind of situations.  Luckily though, I don't think accuracy is the most important element.  I feel that audience members will contribute enough in thinking of their own losses.  Still, to open up and be completely vulnerable on stage is always one of the biggest challenges.
Any other thoughts about your characters that you’d like to share?
K: I'm also interested in Orpheus' relationship to music.  It's fun to see Orpheus and Eurydice so in love, but they don't necessarily like the same things.  They want each other to be able to appreciate and engage with the things that interest them. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Page - The Dear Eurydice Project

Check out our new page! It contains a sampling of letters and photos from our Dear Eurydice Project

Here's an article about the project from the UVU Review:

“Eurydice” invites confrontation of difficult feelings
An old bicycle, a battered mailbox and a discarded tennis racket hung as if suspended in the faint mist that filled the Noorda Theater. Each item was stark white, as if all color had been drained.
The eyes of about 60 audience members, in the intimate setting of the Noorda, were riveted on the actors throughout the 80-minute showing of “Eurydice” Monday evening, Oct. 17.

Prior to the show, attendants lounged in the foyer reading dozens of letters contained in the “Dear Eurydice Project.” These letters, addressed to loved ones lost, ranged from sentiments to friends who had taken their lives long ago to letters almost scolding fathers who chose not to stay connected with their children. Despite the somber setting created by the letters in the art project, playwright Sarah Ruhl was able to lace a little bit of humor into her interpretation of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Collin Thomas (left) and Cameron Garcia (right) read silently from the letters submitted to the "Dear Eurydice Project"
According to dramaturge Wendy Gourley, the contrast between sorrow and humor were meant to represent reality. Gourley, who was responsible for providing the director with research and background of the story, explained that Ruhl’s interpretation of the traditional Greek story was her way of dealing with the death of her father.
“She wanted one more conversation with her dad, and the play was a way for her to have that,” Gourley said.
The story is traditionally told from the perspective of Orpheus, Eurydice’s husband. Ruhl’s version, however, was centered around Eurydice, who during the course of the play had a chance to see her father in death, and get to know him in ways she never did in life.
Society, Gourley explained, doesn’t contain rituals through which loss can be adequately grieved the way that in can be through works of theater. This performance, if it didn’t provide audience members with a tool to deal with grief, it at least gave them the opportunity to approach any feelings of loss in an open-minded way. Feelings that Aubrey Bench, who played Eurydice, explained as universal.
“Everyone’s lost someone or something,” Bench said, “so this play is accessible for everyone because everyone’s gone through these emotions at one point or another.”
After the conclusion of the show, audience members were able to interact with the cast, crew and director in a question and answer session they called a “talkback.” This unique addition to the performance will only be available after the Oct. 29 matinee and the Nov. 4 evening performance.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Songs - For Eurydice and Orpheus

Here's a song for Eurydice from Aubrey Bench who plays her:

Home by the Foo Fighters

Here's a song for Orpheus from Kyle Oram, who plays him:

Into the Dark by Ben Lee

And here's my song for Orpheus - the final song from Hadestown, a folk opera.
It's Eurydice and Persephone singing Orpheus' praises
 from the underworld at the end of the story:

I Raise My Cup to Him by Anais Mitchell