The University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance is reimagining the tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice from the perspective of its Hades-bound heroine during a production next week.
“Eurydice” is set to play at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12-15, with an additional performance at 2 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Studio Theatre. Tickets are $14 for the public, $11 for seniors and $7 for students.
Written by playwright Sarah Ruhl, “Eurydice” revisits the story of Orpheus, the musician and poet of Greek mythology, taught to play the lyre by Apollo. When his wife, Eurydice, is killed by a snake bite, he travels to the Underworld to get her. The expedition doesn’t have a happy ending, however, as Orpheus disobeys strict instructions not to look back at his wife as they are walking out, and she disappears forever.
“That’s a moment that’s encapsulated in Western literature,” said director Patrick Konesko, an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
Konesko said wanted to do a play by a female writer that features a strong female character, and he’s long admired Ruhl’s work and this play in particular.
“There’s always an interesting perspective,” he said. “There’s always interesting room for interpretation, as an artist, with her work.”
Ruhl’s adaptation tells the story from Eurydice’s perspective, following her into the Underworld and watching her reunite with her father, who helps her regain the use of memory and language, which are forbidden in their realm. In Ruhl’s telling, Eurydice decides whether to stay with her father or return with her husband.
“It takes on questions of love and relationships from a lot of different perspectives,” Konesko said.
The retelling is contemporary and stylistic, set in a modern period and with modern language and costumes. The depiction of the Underworld is less hellish and more Alice in Wonderland-ish, Konesko said, following Ruhl’s directive.
“The naturalistic lighting and music makes sense in the Overworld and sounds correct, and as you move into the Underworld it gets distorted,” he said. “The light quality changes, the shadows change.”
Konesko said the production is at times comedic, dramatic and tragic. It’s both grounded and whimsical.
“I have an incredible group of students,” he said. “They came back early from break to work on it, and I think it’s going to be a really fun experience.”