The Grand Theatre Blogs

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday night with Eurydice...

It’s the night before tech rehearsal and the cast has the night off to relax, ponder and regroup before we start into the process of getting Eurydice ready to open in a little over one week. What do we do? Talk about Eurydice!! We’re engrossed, we’re ingrained, we’re down to crunch time. I had the pleasure of chatting tonight with Stephanie Ogden who plays the role of Eurydice, an ingenue unlike any other. Trust when I say that she’s every bit as compelling offstage as she is in the show.

A 2009 psychology graduate of the University of Utah, Stephanie began her journey into theatre in her last year of college. A singer and dancer growing up, she took an acting class because it was something she always wanted to do. After that, she developed more than just an acting bug, she came down with a full-blown acting fever that gets stronger with each rehearsal. She definitively says, “I ended up falling in love with it,” and as such performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Beehive Theatre in Ogden and in the Egyptian Theatre’s A Christmas Carol.

Which brings us to our performance of Eurydice at The Grand. Stephanie got the script prior to auditions and felt compelled to be part of the story because it was unlike anything she had read before. It seems most people are at least a little familiar with the classic Greek tale, but Stephanie was interested in this particular adaptation. “This show is very much a love story, and the play presents love as a force that is strong enough to last beyond the grave.” She continues, “but love is also very fragile and can be lost with one misstep.” Ultimately the story is a tragedy, but it’s not without hope.

We talked further about how love is presented in Eurydice, and going into rehearsals Stephanie first focused on the relationship between Orpheus and Eurydice. She then realized the play examines many different kinds of love. Stephanie says, “When I found that Eurydice meets her father in the afterlife I saw the love in the show as both romantic and paternal, and that love breaks the barrier between living and the underworld.” This play examines what it means to love, live in the moment, then potentially lose someone you love. “How do you go on living without someone you love? How do you remember your loved ones and keep them alive after they’re gone?” Stephanie muses. “These questions have all become more apparent as we’ve gone through the rehearsal process.” She hopes audiences will relate to love in their own ways and look to their own experiences to enrich what they will see on the stage.

To people who are still wondering what this play is all about, Stephanie thinks that the performances will be not only entertaining but also refreshingly thought-provoking. This show is sure to take audiences to remarkable places that may not resonate until they’re already there. She puts it most eloquently, “This play is surprising in its simplicity and its power.” We could talk about the script for hours and still wonder what it all means, for the nuances in the show are as simple or as complex as you would like to delve. Stephanie sums this up in one of her favorite lines in the show (as spoken by Little Stone) Love is a big, funny word by “hoping people take home with them the idea that love is strange and wild thing, but it’s wonderful. It's what we live for and the script shows us that love will endure when we're gone.”

Audiences are going to be blown away by not only the show itself, but also the beautiful hearts of the people in the show. The wonderful spirit of the group of people cast in Eurydice resonates through more than just the words being spoken, and each is touched in their own way. We agree that you're going to be astonished by this experience.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"You have to speak the language of stones."

People have a morbid curiosity about death; part of the fascination with death is the great unknown. What happens when we die? Is there a light? Is there a calm? Is there... Elvis? It seems nobody knows what happens when we die because, well, we're dead.

In the traditional story of Orpheus and Eurydice, we follow Oprheus' journey toward the unknown as he travels to the underworld to, ultimately unsuccessfully, bring back to life his true love. In this story, we learn what Eurydice encounters in the underworld as if she were an ethereal Alice in Wonderland. Except in this story she is thrown down the proverbial rabbit hole without a potion to shrink her down or a piece of cake to make her big again. Author Sarah Ruhl takes Eurydice to a world filled with "high pitched humming sounds" where conversations are held in the "language of stones."

We examine the underworld as a strange place where people are made to lose memories of their mortal life by riding an elevator that rains with the water of forgetfulness. Moreover, audiences are made to think about how all this death-stuff could relate to their own lives.

Many of us in the cast had costume fittings this week, which is always an amazing chance to fit together more pieces of the rehearsal puzzle. The clothes are nothing short of beautiful and are sure to become characters themselves, as will the sound design and the set. Costumer Brenda Van Der Weil wonderfully meshes real with surreal to make us look outstanding, and today it was exciting to try on that which always seems to propel cast members into a higher state of readiness for opening night.

Get your tickets now, otherwise we might have to dunk you in the river.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Eurydice: What's in a Name?

Eurydice is a play by modern playwright Sarah Ruhl, a take on Virgil's tragic Greek tale of "Orpheus and Eurydice" and Orpheus's journey to the Underworld after Eurydice's untimely death. Yet it's told from Eurydice's perspective and shows just what happens beyond her journey. This is going to be a beautiful show filled with humorous twists and melancholy turns, peppered with a hint of an Alice in Wonderland-esque feel. Director Richard Scott's brilliant casting coupled with understated insight will make for a truly original and heartfelt regional premiere of this play. As for me? I play the part of a stone, one of the "guardians" to the Underworld and after just a few weeks of rehearsals can assure you this show will be one heckofa ride. I feel confident to say the cast, in a word, is very excited about it.

Throughout the rehearsal process, I'll be writing a few blog posts to give you some "sneak peeks" on the show, even some backstage thoughts into what it takes to present a show like this on stage. Conventionally, this play is very much a love story. But this is an unconventional script and there are many levels which we hope audiences will take home with them and ponder.

So to begin, what's in a name? Let's start with how to pronounce the title, Eurydice. It's pronounced like yur-ID-a-see. It's not YURI-dice. It's not yur-WHY-deece. Concentrate the emphasis on the ID in the middle syllable: id, like your unconscious mind, which is where it seems this play could take you.

More to come...
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