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Eurydice: Artists Repertory Theatre.

Randall Stuart, DIRECTION: The key diving-off point for our production of Eurydice was the work of turn-of-the-century cartoonist and sketch artist Winsor, 'McCay, who is beloved for his cartoon series Little Nemo in Slumberland. Since I knew that [playwright] Sarah Ruhl was referencing Alice in Wonderland in this breathtaking dream of a play about finding redemption by going underground, I turned to McCay and to Jules Verne's work for inspiration. I charged the designers and our amazing composer Rodolfo Ortega with dreaming in the world of the early 1900s, and each one followed that directive in his or her own delicious way. The scene above we called the "cord ascension dance"--Orpheus and Eurydice ascend out of the Underworld with lines tied to their ankles, bodies and hearts; at the penultimate moment, when Eurydice calls out to her husband, all the cords snap. Opposite, you see Orpheus being transported in our elevator of water, a Verne-like glass column on wheels that delivers him to the Underworld.

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Michael Olich, SCENIC DESIGN: I was inspired by Randall's affection for his visual sources--McCay and Verne--but I was also really struck by the challenges that Sarah Ruhl had embedded in her text regarding the journey the characters take. The predicament this writer sets up inspired action: As we tried to physicalize the space between Earth and Hell, and convey how the stability of both places is fractured, we embraced the idea that in the eyes of the audience we might actually invert what is up and what is down. The goal was to disorient the audience from ever knowing exactly where they were--they had to listen to the characters to understand where they had landed.

Sarah Gahaqan, COSTUME DESIGN: We worked a lot with the play's two contrasting worlds--the above world used soft and reflective colors that evoked an ephemeral, 1920s-boardwalk kind of feeling; the world below had more of a dark and rusty quality, drawn from Ruhl's description of the plumbing in the Underworld. We invented complex backstories about how each of the Underworld characters died and what they did when they were alive. Their costumes used an enormous range of found objects, such as plumbing implements, wire, furniture parts, hammers and nails, leather, old scissors, safety pins. Orpheus's costume in the final scene (opposite page) is based on his connection to Eurydice, his cellular memory of his time with her, as he descends to the Underworld for the final time.

Eurydice, by Sarah Ruhl, ran Sept. 16-Oct. 26, 2008, at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Ore., under Randall Stuart's direction. The production featured scenic design by Michael Olich, lighting design by Kristeen Crosser, flight choreography by Suzanne Kenney, video design by David Lukowski, compositions and sound design by Rodolfo Ortega, costume design by Sarah Gahagan and properties design by Alexandra Kuechler. Laura Widener was stage manager. In photo above, Todd Van Voris (center) and Gilberto Martin del Campo (silhouette). Opposite page, del Campo.

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY OWEN CAREY

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Title Annotation:PRODUCTION NOTEBOOK
Publication:American Theatre
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2009
Words:503
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