ISAS Spotlight: “Eurydice” moves audiences


Chuy Benitez

From left: Eurydice (Frances Hellums) and Orpheus (Gray Watson) share a loving moment.

Amy Liu and Mia Fares

Delving into themes of love, art and indecision, Johnnycake’s intense performance of Eurydice left some audience members tearful at the ISAS Arts Festival, April 6-8 in Oklahoma City. The play will premiere at St. John’s on Thursday, April 13 in the Black Box Theater.

Written in 2003 by Sarah Ruhl, the play retells the Greek myth of Orpheus (Gray Watson) from the perspective of his wife, Eurydice (Frances Hellums). Eurydice faces a dilemma between returning to Earth with Orpheus or staying in the underworld with her father (James Boehme). There, she encounters the Lord of the Underworld (Hank Lasley, Jason Souvaliotis) and the three Stones (Miranda Allegar, Maddie McZeal, Maddie Speed).

“‘Eurydice was chosen because it’s a play that is relatable but not simple,”said senior Sophie Worscheh, co-stage manager with junior Emily Ragauss. “It forces its audience to question and wonder if what they’re watching is the right thing to do. I love plays that make you think.”

Orpheus and Eurydice are lovers struggling to communicate. While Orpheus tries to express his affection through music, Eurydice can only understand words.

“The first thing we talked about when we started practicing was that it is about the different types of love: romantic, familial, and a love for one’s passion,” Speed said. “It was about exploring which type of love was the most important to each person.”

Due to a one-hour time restriction at ISAS, Ruhl’s original script was cut down from 90 to 45 minutes.

“We were forced to use just what we needed without the detail, which was extremely difficult,” Worscheh said. “What’s great about Eurydice is that the bare minimum is still plenty of story and character to be compelling.”

Director Kat Cordes took a 1960’s spin on the characters’ costumes and surroundings. The Lord of the Underworld was based off artist Andy Warhol, and the Stones represented his muses.

“It is written so well and it is such a good play that you can’t go wrong,” Watson said. “We are a really close cast and we understand each other. When you have a close cast and a good script, everything else falls together.”

While other plays at ISAS required set pieces, Eurydice only needed four blocks, four chairs, some string, a book and a letter. The story was told through emotions rather than the set.

“Some other plays at ISAS went too over the top. If it was a sad play, they forced it to be a tragedy. We kept ours quite minimalist, which made it easier to focus on the acting,” Worscheh said. “Our director kept saying, ‘stop acting,’ because she didn’t want to watch actors onstage. She wanted to watch Orpheus and Eurydice.”

Watch Eurydice in the Black Box Theater at 6:30 p.m. tonight!