Quince Orchard High School
A raining elevator, a room made of string, and a letter from a dead man: these are just a few of the surreal elements encountered by audiences at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program's production of Eurydice.
Eurydice was written by Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Sarah Ruhl and premiered at the Madison Repertory Theatre in 2003. A modern retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the play focuses on Eurydice's journey after her untimely death. Arriving in the Underworld without her memory, she reunites with her father, who helps her to recall her past. But when her husband Orpheus comes to bring her home, Eurydice finds herself facing an impossible choice between the new life she's created in the Underworld, and the one she left behind.
Under the direction of students Katrina Nelson and Charlotte Keshapp, this tale of love and loss became a playful tribute to childhood nostalgia. Olivia Van Hoey gave a sweetly genuine performance as the titular Eurydice, balancing youthful naivety with striking depth to create a uniquely sympathetic character. Eurydice's innocence was further accentuated by the wisdom of her father, played by Josie Parry. Parry displayed an impressive range of emotion, delivering both humorous anecdotes and heart-wrenching monologues with a sense of subtle intricacy.
Also memorable were the chorus of Stones (Allyna Flom, Sasha Nair, and Zoe Salen), whose consistent energy earned many a laugh from the audience. Even when not directly involved in the action, the Stones gossiped and giggled from their swing set, further enhancing the world with their playful reactions to the goings-on around them. Like the Stones, the rest of the cast did some of their best work in silence, using only their bodies and the space around them to create poignant and impactful moments.
The production's costumes employed color and style to define characters--Eurydice's girlish sundress, for instance, stood in contrast to her father's mature black suit. Further evoking the production's themes of childhood, Set Designer Niko Bauman and Student Technical Director Ned Gabbay's innovative set was a literal playground for the actors, complete with a slide, swing set, and sandbox "river." The theatre's grid was employed in a particularly memorable scene, in which Eurydice's father created a room out of string for his daughter. The choice to stage the show in a black box lent intimacy to the already stripped-down production, removing the divide typically present between audience and performers.
The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice has been told for thousands of years, in thousands of ways. And yet the cast and crew of Eurydice at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program managed to make this ancient story feel new again. With their inventive take on a time-honored tale, these students have created a thought-provoking production that audiences won't soon forget.
Albert Einstein High School
Don't look behind you.
After Orpheus' long and painstaking journey to retrieve his wife from the underworld, this is his only instruction.
Walk out the gates, she'll be following you. Don't look back at her.
Orpheus doesn't hear her footsteps, and he worries she's not following him. He hasn't caught a glimpse nor a whisper of his lovely Eurydice since her death.
He takes a step out of the underworld. He looks back at her. She falls.
The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of the Greek classics, but how would it be told through Eurydice's eyes?
"Eurydice," the stimulating retelling of this myth written by Sarah Ruhl, debuted in 2003 at the Madison Repertory Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin. This comedic drama chronicles Eurydice's time in the underworld with her father while her husband, Orpheus, desperately searches for her in the world above. And when that world consists of petulant stones, a disturbingly young Lord of the Underworld, and desperately attempts to regain the memories she lost alongside her father, being dead isn't easy.
H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program's production of "Eurydice" was striking in its execution, made possible by many talented students. Olivia Van Hoey's performance as Eurydice was expressive and enthralling, making for a relatable and empathetic character who bonded especially well with her father, played by Josie Parry. Parry encapsulated an intense parental care for Eurydice, and their charming chemistry on stage made for a lovable duo. Dakota Cupples's appearances as the Interesting Man and the Lord of the Underworld had the audience roaring in laughter any time they appeared on stage. Additionally, the insertions and interruptions of the Stones, played by Allyna Flom, Sasha Nair, and Zoe Salen, moved the story along and offered some refreshing laughs with the trio's impeccable comedic timing.
Of course, the actors are not the only ones making unforgettable performances. "Eurydice" was student directed by Katrina Nelson, and the organization and execution of the performance showcased incredible directing talent--it felt almost professional. The costume design, headed by Callie Dowler and Sarah Reich, was thoughtful and detailed, enhancing the more childlike aspects of some of the characters, such as the Stones and the Lord of the Underworld. The set, designed by Niko Bauman, was especially impressive, nostalgic in nature and set in a children's playground painted in a mostly grayscale palette with pops of color. It was well thought out and used to represent diverse locations.
Though one hardly imagines a youthful playground when thinking about the afterlife, it was easy to fall into the whimsy of H.B. Woodlawn Secondary Program's production of "Eurydice." The hard work put in by the students on this production allowed the audience to follow this young woman through her journey in the afterlife while laughing along the way, showcasing the incredible talent that H.B. Woodlawn Secondary Program had to offer.