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School of Theatre and Dance brings Greek mythology to the stage with Eurydice

Image from the production poster depicting an umbrella with rain and one person under the umbrella and one person running along the top.

Eurydice retells the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, young lovers who are separated by Eurydice’s tragic death.

The Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance will present Eurydice, by Sarah Ruhl, on March 29-30 at 7:30 p.m., March 31 at 2 p.m., and April 2-6 at 7:30 p.m. in Westhoff Theatre on the campus of Illinois State University. Tickets are $10 for students and seniors and $12 for all other adults.

Reviewed by The New York Times as a “weird and wonderful new play,” Eurydice retells the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, young lovers who are separated by Eurydice’s tragic death. Orpheus, overwhelmed with grief, decides to travel to the underworld to see his bride and uses music to win his entrance into a world reserved for the dead.

Ruhl’s play is a fresh, contemporary take on the Greek myth. While the original story focuses on the couple’s harrowing fate and ends with a lesson on patience and trust, Ruhl’s version is told from Eurydice’s perspective. It targets the relationship between the title character and her father who serves as her haven of love, learning, and protection while in the underworld. Having lost her own father to cancer at the age of 20, the playwright has said, “Eurydice is a transparently personal play. I wanted to write something where I would be allowed to have a few more conversations with him.”

Ruhl delves into themes regarding love, language, and the importance of sharing memories. This focus on memories is what director, MFA candidate Myeongsik “Jason” Jang, is emphasizing to his cast in the rehearsal room. Jang says, “As a director, my main responsibility in the rehearsal process is to help my actors explore their character’s journey in order to find the precious memories they forgot. Many people in our society tend to forget their memories and don’t realize how important it is to keep them.”

Jang works closely with designers to incorporate magical imagery on stage that supports the playwright’s surrealist approach to an otherwise gloomy myth. He hopes the production will provide audiences with their own unique experience. “I want to make the audience feel like they are reading a beautiful pop-up card. When you open a beautiful card that you received from someone you love, a rush of stories, memories, and feelings surface that we can’t explain. However, after a few months, we don’t remember where we put that card and those memories and feelings are forgotten.”

Tickets are available by calling (309) 438-2535, online at Ticketmaster.com, or by visiting the Box Office, located in the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Free performance parking is available in the School Street Parking Deck in spots 250 and above, at 400 W. Beaufort St., in Normal.

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