eurYdice - Notes from the Director
Jill Westerby as the Loud Stone

This play is the thing of wonderful dreams: especially the haunting, heartstring-tugging brand; the kind of jewel you have to go through (ehem) "you-know-where" to find.  If you’ve lost anything or anyone, this text might just help you to arrive at the sanctuary for a cathartic mourning, with Sarah Ruhl’s pen strokes guiding you.

When I was a pajama-clad moppet beset by dreams, the family was concerned - even as they were mostly occupied in the rather busy business of Dying Early.  In an effort to help calm my various nightmares, Grandfather would bring out a box with the original full-page ‘Funnies’ from 1904-1914 which he had so enjoyed on so many splendid Sundays, and say: “There is a little boy just like you, and his name is Little Nemo.”  So, with the first glimpse of the hand-drawn colorful Oomp who told the restless Nemo that he had turned-up by command of King Morpheus of Slumberland, and had brought a prancing pony named Somnus to bring Nemo “a long way off through many miles of weird scenes" - I became a diehard fan of the cartoon Little Nemo In Slumberland and its droll artist Winsor McCay.

Ruhl’s astonishing play Eurydice is a piece of Art which offers an authentic peace, for in its epic wonder, its surreal Lewis Carroll thanatological landscape, I am reminded that the veil between this world and the next, between myth and one’s own cellular memory, is the stuff that live theatre can actually solve. We come to the dark room to dream, collectively.  Ruhl invokes Alice In Wonderland in her theatrical prayer to her own deceased parent - and so it didn’t seem like too far a leap to present the design team with the astonishing and whimsical art of McCay as well as describing the dilapidated Edwardian-era Playland At The Beach I grew up visiting on weekends - and to use both Slumberland and Playland as imaginative leaping-off points - the ways in which the Artistic Team might collectively dive-off of piers together and swim in scary and beautiful waters.

Sarah Ruhl allows the designers to dream lavishly.  Her spare descriptions throughout the script are actually extremely generous, and indeed triggered several additional ideas for me, specifically: “He picks her up and throws her into the sky.” - and later - “Orpheus walks slowly, in a straight line, with the focus of a tightrope walker.  Eurydice moves to follow him.”  My job is then to make sure that uncommon movement and flight will be realized. I believe in the power of making objects and images live & breathe onstage, and so I grabbed-for the carousels brass ring and found it in my palm alright – a profoundly magnificent team of designers who each possess devotion to detail and imaginative composition; for with Olich, Gahagan, Ortega, and Crosser designing, a chap really can dream.

Attending Les Waters’ original production of Eurydice at Berkeley Repertory Theatre was a revelation for me. It is grand that Artists Rep has chosen the piece for you to experience, and I’m humbly grateful to have been chosen as the facilitator.  So, welcome to the Underworld: it’s not so far away, and to visit it is a daring stop, a wrinkle in time, a promising voyage.

- Randall Stuart