“Eurydice,” written by Pulitzer Prize winner Sarah Ruhl, is an award-winning re-make of a timeless tale. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is a short part of Ovid’s epic poem “Metamorphoses.” On the day of Orpheus and Eurydice’s wedding, Eurydice meets a Nasty and Interesting Man who lures her away with a letter from her dead father.
She follows the stranger and eventually stumbles to her death. She then journeys to the Underworld in a raining elevator and is reunited with her father.
Meanwhile, Orpheus is mourning the death of his young bride. The gods take pity on Orpheus and offer him a chance to rescue Eurydice.
Among the other characters is a choruses of talking Stones, who introduce the audience to their world.
The play is centered on Eurydice’s choice of returning with her husband, or remaining in the Underworld to be with her father.
A great amount of time and detail went into creating Ruhl’s vision. The scene when Eurydice is transported to the Underworld by a raining elevator was no small challenge.
Sophomore Kristina Hess, who plays Little Stone, was also one of the set carpenters. She explained what went into the design for “Eurydice.”
“At first it was just platforms and then it was this giant elevator that we then had to put a rain contraption in,” said Hess. “It was interesting to watch it go from just bare wood to an actual world.”
There is a lot of water imagery in this play world. It has a significant symbolic role. Water was also a motivation for costume and set design. Play director Brooke Kiener was inspired by a collection of dresses cast members found in the theater’s collection. The dresses had a 1950s housewife look. The vividness of the blue fabric inspired the costumes and color of the Underworld.
In order to capture the imagery of the production, Kiener spent a lot of time researching what inspired the playwright, the kind of music Ruhl listened to, the movies she watched and the kind of poetry she read.
“I tried to kind of immerse myself in that wellspring of inspiration,” Kiener said.
The makings of “Eurydice” began right before Christmas break. Casting sessions were an exciting experience for sophomore Dana Sammond, who plays Eurydice. This is her first lead role.
“It was a little scary but at the same time I think auditions are really exciting,” Sammond said.
The actors read through the play together and Kiener gave them homework to do over their break in Jan Term. Rehearsals began the first Monday of the 2011 spring semester. The cast rehearsed on an average 17 hours a week.
“I fell in love with the play immediately,” senior Nick Kemner said. “I really loved Orpheus’ character; he has these amazing lines that got stuck in my head.”
This play deals with themes of loss, memory and the transformative journey of love.
“There’s something about the simplicity of Ruhl’s language that I am in awe of, that she accomplishes so much with so little, is really admirable to me,” Kiener said.
Performances will be held March 11, and 12 at 8 p.m. in Cowles Memorial Auditorium. General admission is $8; students pay $6. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling the theatre box office at (509) 777-3707 and online at www.whitworth.edu/theatretickets.