The story is familiar. Musician marries the love of his life; on their wedding day, she dies. He grieves until he wills his way into the Underworld and is allowed to retrieve her on one condition, which he violates. Thus, even the theme is the same: the fallibility of the human condition and the inability of art to triumph over the persistence of suffering and the finality of death. Nor is Eurydice a strident feminist with a point to prove, after centuries of silent existence as nothing more than a catalyst for the erotic narrative that is the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. For contemporary American playwright Sarah Ruhl, Eurydice is foremost a daughter who learns the hard way that all relationships are constructed of words that cannot always withstand the insistent tensions and demands of parents and spouses.
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Circle X Theatre Co. While in L. Typical Ruhl. Just when you expect gravity, she offers ironic lightness. Her play grapples with the difficulty of comprehending profound loss. But the writing is frolicsome even when Eurydice finds herself stumbling about the underworld.
Ruhl, who lives in Brooklyn, N. She started the play as a graduate student in playwriting at Brown University, where she also did her undergraduate work. Paula Vogel, her mentor at Brown, persuaded Ruhl, an Illinois native from the Chicago area who had set her mind on becoming a poet, to consider the path of dramatic poetry.
The lyricism of the work has made the adaptation seem natural. And I was deeply close with him. So when I sat down to write this when I was about 26, which, ironically, is the age Matt Aucoin was when he started the opera, it made sense to me that if Eurydice went to the underworld she would meet her father. She wanted to have more conversations with him the way I wanted to have more conversations with my father.
I felt so exposed and vulnerable, and then I repeated the grief and repeated it until it was for other people. By the time I began collaborating with Matt, I felt I was ready to give the story away.
I was ready to excavate it in a different way. For the most part, the experience has been joyful. Ruhl is accustomed to working closely with her directors on premieres of her work. Opera production, but her connection with Zimmerman has ensured a high level of trust. She was very influential for me when I was 17, 18, 19, growing up in Chicago and seeing her work. She felt like exactly the right person to do this. The opacity of that gesture when Orpheus turns and loses Eurydice just keeps needing to be reinterpreted.
But people always look at it. Time has shifted her own perspective. As a mother, I have different feelings about the myth than when I was 26 and wrote the play. But things do go in cycles. We make room for the new, and the conversation changes. One thing that makes me feel hopeful is teaching, because I watch these amazing writers come up.
Ruhl thinks of her plays as gifts to put out into the world unburdened by expectations, an attitude that has helped her weather the vicissitudes of the critical marketplace.
As happily industrious as ever, Ruhl has a book of poetry coming out in February. She has been developing a musical with Elvis Costello. Lest we forget, Ruhl also has her opera debut Feb 1.
No one was doing my plays. I was in a spiritual wasteland. Get Carolina A. Miranda's weekly newsletter for what's happening, plus openings, critics' picks and more. Hot Property. About Us. Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. Sarah Ruhl, photographed this month at home in Brooklyn.
Sarah Ruhl. Opera's 'Eurydice'. Where: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, N. Grand Ave. When: p. Enter Email Address. Sign Me Up. You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times. Charles McNulty. Follow Us. He received his doctorate in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism from the Yale School of Drama. More From the Los Angeles Times. Tony Awards are off, so we present the Charlie Awards: Best theater of the decade.
The Power of Memory to Triumph Over Death
Eurydice is a play by Sarah Ruhl which retells the myth of Orpheus from the perspective of Eurydice , his wife. The story focuses on Eurydice's choice to return to earth with Orpheus or to stay in the underworld with her father a character created by Ruhl. Ruhl made several changes to the original myth's story-line. The most noticeable of these changes was that in the myth Orpheus succumbs to his desires and looks back at Eurydice, while in Ruhl's version Eurydice calls out to Orpheus causing him to look back perhaps in part because of her fear of reentering the world of the living and perhaps as a result of her desire to remain in the land of the dead with her father.
Playwright Sarah Ruhl is back, breathing more life into ‘Eurydice’ for L.A. Opera
The most famous unheeded advice in the history of Western literature may be the admonition given by the ruler of the underworld to Orpheus, when that grieving youth went down to retrieve his wife, Eurydice, from the depths, and the lovers began their journey back upward. From this woeful act of disobedience a whole universe of art has been spun over the last couple of millenniums, poems and operas and ballets in the double digits by now, even a classic movie or two. No doubt somewhere on YouTube, a Greek-myth-loving geek with a Webcam has done a two-minute goof on the tale. What she finds there, and what she learns about love, loss and the pleasures and pains of memory, is the subject of Ms. I first saw the play, in this production, at Yale Repertory Theater last fall, and its hallucinatory imagery and emotional allure have remained with me. Encountering it again, I staggered out of the theater in the same state of sad-happy disorientation that I recall from my initial viewing. She is not a journalist of domestic life, as so many playwrights today seem to be, but an adventurer who is not afraid to blend the quotidian and the fantastic, deep feeling and airy whimsy.
Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl: The Power of Pretense
Eurydice and Orpheus should be played as though they are a little too young and a little too in love. The underworld should resemble the world of Alice in Wonderland more than it resembles Hades. It can be interesting to see if other people—like dead people who wrote books—agree or disagree with what you think. It had very interesting arguments. I thought it should be right or wrong. It will be imprinted on my heart like wax.