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Greek myth reimagined

Director delivers a Contemporary ‘and hot’ look at the other side
A 'Very Interesting Man' (Graham Miles) lures Eurydice to his apartment with promises of a letter from Eurydice's (Alysson Hall) father, in the Phoenix Theatre 's production of Eurydice, a contemporary retelling of the Orpheus in the Underworld, on until Feb. 25, 2012.

Get ready for an “engulfing theatrical experience” with Phoenix Theatre’s production of Eurydice, a re-imagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus by American playwright Sarah Ruhl.

Director Jeffrey Pufahl, an MFA candidate in the theatre program, chose Eurydice as his thesis production, the last big assignment before he graduates.

“I chose it for a number of reasons. I was looking for a play that could deliver a lot of elements. I wanted to do non-realism and something that allowed for the magical and the theatrical,” says Pufahl.

“I wanted to do something that was connected to myth, and at the same time I wanted to do something contemporary and hot, so Sarah Ruhl was definitely on my list as a playwright. She’s really an exciting playwright because of how she treats her expression of ideas. I started reading her material and Eurydice all of a sudden fit all of those criteria. On top of that I wanted to do something that the students could feel a part of and not have to play older people … I wanted a play that younger people could identify with.”

With lighting by Bryan Kenney, sound by Neil Ferguson, stage managing by Sarah Watson and production design by accomplished designer Mary Kerr, Pufahl leads this quest as they ask, “what happens on the other side?”

“We’ve all asked that question and this play lets us see into the other side. Eurydice goes down to the underworld and there she meets her father — that’s Sarah’s twist. Her writing for much of her early career was about the loss of her dad. She lost her father to cancer when she was 20 and that affects you. And I think that’s a very common experience.”

“It’s about loss and it’s about getting over loss in life and connecting to our loved ones, and also our attachments to those people in our lives who are dead … and how the choices we make based on those attachments play out in our existence. The play explores it in a non-realistic, non-linear way. It’s an expression. Exploring the world of the living and the world of the dead,” says Pufahl.

Kerr’s set helps to explore the places in between those worlds, he says.

“We’re using the space in all of its dimensions. When you come into the theatre, you’re brought into an entire world, you’re part of the experience.

“When Mary Kerr and I first got together, our discussions were mostly focused on the question of ‘what is it?’ In the design process we often found ourselves trying to nail down what world we’re in and we took an approach that doesn’t quite define it and lets the audience participate in defining what that world is,” says Pufahl.

“With colour, shape and structure, the kinetic set moves and makes an architecture. We move it as we need it in the play and the actors are a part of that. They manipulate the world in order to form the shapes we need it to form and that’s sort of true to life. Our thoughts manipulate our world so that we create our world with our thoughts, and that’s what’s really happening with Eurydice’s journey.”

Pufahl says the lighting, shapes, sounds and poetic nature of the text and story make it feel like a dream. “You enter this dream world and you have this entirely visceral experience, which is really only possible in this kind of space.”

“Getting to work with a designer like Mary Kerr, I don’t know if it will happen again, but it may not. I want to relish working with someone with her vision and her tenacity. Creating this production together has been the highlight of my life,” says Pufahl.

“And I think what an audience is going to get when they come to this production is an engulfing theatrical experience.”

Everyone is welcome to attend a free pre-show lecture on Friday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. Join Professor Linda Hardy in conversation with the director and the design team as they discuss the concept and designs for the play. M



Feb. 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 at 8 pm

Sat., Feb. 25 at 2pm

Tickets: $13 Student / $18 Senior / $22 Adult / $24 Weekends or call250-721-8000