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Portland State University

Study Guide

Written by: Sarah Ruhl
Directed by: Karin Magaldi
Prepared by Dramaturgs:
Melissa Sondergeld & Corey McEuin

Table Of Contents

Synopsis of Eurydice - pg. 3

Myth Explored - pg. 5

Myth in Art, Literature, & Theatre - pg. 7

Sarah Ruhl: The Playwright - pg. 10

Sarah Ruhl: Exploration of Style pg. 13

Production History pg. 17

References pg. 18

Unlike most plays that consist of three acts, Eurydice is divided between three
"movements,"much like a piece of music.
In the First Movement, Orpheus and Eurydice are presented as two young lovers who
have recently become engaged. On the day of her wedding, Eurydice is lured by a Nasty
Interesting Man who claims to have a letter from her dead father. At his apartment, the Man
attempts to seduce Eurydice. Fearful and desperate, Eurydice takes the letter and flees, but falls
down a flight of stairs to her death.
The Second Movement opens with a trio of Stones recounting the events in Act
I. Eurydice arrives in the underworld, but is confused and has no memory of her life. Her father
arrives with hopes that she would recognize him, but she mistakes him for a porter. Despite
being saddened by Eurydice's lack of memory, the Father tends to her needs.
Struck by grief, Orpheus writes Eurydice many love letters. One of the letters makes it to
the Underworld and is found by the Father. After the Father reads the letter, Eurydice's memory
comes flooding back, and she suddenly remembers Orpheus as well as her father.
Orpheus attempts to find a way to the Underworld while Eurydice and her Father
reconnect. The Father recounts stories of his childhood and their family. While the Father is off
to work (he works in the "business world"), the Lord of the Underworld arrives and attempts to
seduce Eurydice, although Eurydice is not at all attracted to him. Orpheus believes he has found
a way to get to the Underworld unharmed, by using his gift of music.
The Third Movement begins when Orpheus reaches the gates of the Underworld and
sings. His song is so powerful and emotional, that even the stones begin to weep for Orpheus.
Only the Lord of the Underworld criticizes his music. The Lord explains that Eurydice can leave
with Orpheus as long as he does not turn to look at her. While Eurydice sees Orpheus, she is
not certain who it is. She calls out to him and Orpheus and, on impulse, Orpheus turns and
looks at Eurydice.
They both then lament the difficulties their relationship has had and they begin to drift
apart from each other. Believing that Eurydice has left with Orpheus, the Father "dips [himself]
into the river. Eurydice returns and finds her Father dead a second time. The Child returns and
tells Eurydice that she is his bride and a wedding has already been prepared. Eurydice writes a
note to Orpheus and his future wife, and dips herself into the river.
Immediately afterwards, Orpheus arrives in the Underworld. He sees Eurydice, but
because he is dipped in the River he immediately forgets. He performs the same actions
Eurydice did when first entering the Underworld.

Eurydice - Protagonist and titular character. Wife of Orpheus and daughter of The
Father. Dies on the night of her wedding and travels to the Underworld, where she
reunites with her Father and is seduced by the Lord of the Underworld. Based on
mythical character of the same name.

Orpheus - Secondary character. Husband of Eurydice. A very talented musician who is

always preoccupied with music. Is heavily distraught over Eurydice's death. So much
so, that he uses his musical talent to travel to the Underworld and make the Stones
weep for him. Based on mythical character of the same name.

The Father - Secondary character. Father of Eurydice. One of the few dead people who
can read, write, speak, and remember the living world. The only original character by
Sarah Ruhl; there is no father equivalent in any version of the myth.

Nasty Interesting Man/Lord of the Underworld - Main antagonists. Two nasty

characters who desire Eurydice to be their lover/bride. The Man invites Eurydice into his
apartment and attempts to seduce her, despite her lack of interest in him. The Lord of
the Underworld behaves similarity with Eurydice. Nasty Interesting Man may be based
on the snake that kills Eurydice, or the satyr that chases Eurydice in another retelling.

The Stones - Three stones, identified as Big, Little, and Loud Stone, that enforce the
rules of the Underworld. They frequently repeat what dead people can and can't do, and
protest whatever Eurydice and her Father are doing. Based on Cerebus, the Three-
headed guard dog of the Underworld.

The Myth
There are
countless different
versions of the myth of
Orpheus and Eurydice,
but all follow the same

general plot. Orpheus and Eurydice are a young couple madly in love with each other. Eurydice
dies on the night of their wedding, and Orpheus uses his gift of music to retrieve her from
Hades. However, he loses her once again when he looks upon her before exiting the
underworld. The two earliest and most prolific versions of the myth are the ones told by the
Greek Virgil and the Roman Ovid.

Virgil's Version (29 BC)

In lines 453-527 of Book 4 of Virgil's Georgics, the beekeeping God Aristaeus notices a
major sickness plaguing his bees. Aristaeus captures the seer Proteus, looking to discover the
cause of his bees' plight. Proteus explains that the people responsible are Eurydice's dryad
Shortly after Eurydice marry Orpheus, Aristaeus attempts to seduce and chase her.
During the chase, Eurydice is killed after treading on a snake. Orpheus descends to the
underworld, determined to rescue Eurydice. He uses his power of music to move the spirits of
the Underworld and convince them to release Eurydice. Orpheus is allowed to bring Eurydice
back to the world of the living under one condition: he is not to look back at her until they've both
crossed the void between the dead and the living. However, once Orpheus returns to the earth,
he immediately looks back at Eurydice, before she has crossed back into the world of the living.
Eurydice dies a second death.
The Dryads, blaming Aristaeus for Eurydices demise, send a plaque on his bees. The
only way he can ask for forgiveness is to offer prayers and gifts to the Dryads:

Choose four bulls of outstanding physique,

that graze on your summits of green Lycaeus,

and as many heifers, with necks free of the yoke.

Set up four altars for them by the high shrines of the goddesses,

and drain the sacred blood from their throats

leaving the bodies of the steers in the leafy grove.

Then when the ninth dawn shows her light

send funeral gifts of Lethean poppies to Orpheus,

and sacrifice a black ewe, and revisit the grove:


worship Eurydice, placate her with the death of a calf (Kline).

After Aristaeus completes the ritual, swarms of bees emerge from the carcasses of the
cattle ending his punishment.

Ovid's Version (8 AD)

Another famous version of Orpheus and Eurydice is located in Lines 1-85 of Book X of
Ovids Metamorphoses. In this version, Hymen, the Greek God of Marriage visits their
marriage. However, for reasons unknown, Hymen does not grant the couple with his usual
blessings. As a result, Eurydice dies from a snake-bite while walking with her Naiad friends.
Orpheus travels the River Styx and passes the gate of Taenarus to meet "the Lord of
Shadows" and his wife, Persephone. Orpheus sings to them, explaining that he does not come
to defeat the creatures of the underworld, but to retrieve the love of his life. His song is so
powerful and emotional, that the spirits cease their evil deeds and begin to weep. The Lord of
the Underworld and Persephone allow Eurydice to return with Orpheus, but under the condition
that Orpheus would not turn back to look at Eurydice as they travel out of the Underworld.
However, due to anxiety that she was no longer present, and a great desire to look upon
his lost love, Orpheus turns and looks at her. She dies a second death, briefly saying farewell
before she disappears a second time. Orpheus attempts to enter the Underworld again, but is
rejected by the ferryman. Distraught, he retreats to Mount Rhodope and starves himself for
seven days, surviving on sorrow, troubled thought, and tears.

Myth in Art, Music, & Literature

In Opera:
There are 73 versions of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth in total.
Examples of composers who have written operas are Peri (1600), Caccini (1602), Gluck
(1762), Haydn (1791) Offenbach (1858).

Monteverdi: LOrfeo 1607 Version

Five Acts with a Prologue.
PROLOGUE La Musica, the embodiment of music pronounces the Drama in
which the power of music will occupy the centre of the stage.
ACT 1 Wedding celebration for Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus sings a song
about his happiness. Eurydice affirms her love for Orpheus.

ACT 2 Orpheus continues to sing. He is informed that Eurydice has died.

Orpheus decides to go the Underworld and retrieve her. If he cannot he will stay in the
ACT 3 Orpheus sings his way into the Underworld.
ACT 4 Orpheus is allowed to retrieve Eurydice. He cannot look back at Eurydice
until they both have left the realm of the Underworld. But Orpheus is filled with doubt and
finally turns around. Eurydice must remain in the Underworld.
ACT 5 Orpheus bewails his sorrows. Orpheus vows that Amor shall never pierce
his heart again. Apollo appears and invites his son Orpheus to renounce his earthly joys
and sorrows and to enter heaven. There he can enjoy the likeness of Eurydice.

In Literature:

1. The Death of Eurydice episode which occurs in Book X of Metamorphoses by Ovid (8

2. The poem "Orpheus and Eurydice" in "The Consolation of Philosophy" by Boethius (594
3. Sir Orfeo, anonymous narrative poem (c. late thirteenth century)
4. The Tale of Orpheus and Erudices his Quene, poem by Robert Henryson (c.1470)
5. Sonnets to Orpheus, allusive sonnet sequence by poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1922)
6. The Ground Beneath Her Feet, novel by Salman Rushdie, (1999)
7. Eurydice a poem by Carol Anne Duffy in her collection of revisionist poems, The World's
Wife. (1999)
8. Veniss Underground, novel by Jeff Vandermeer, (2003)
9. Enchanted Fire a romance novel by Roberta Gellis, (1996)
10. Poetry and Fear a novel by Grace Andreacchi, (2008)
11. Syringa, a poem by John Ashbery, later set to music by Elliott Carter
12. Hymn to Persephone a poem by Craig Arnold in Made Flesh (2008.)
13. Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes, a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, (1907)

Other Plays:
Eurydice (Anouilh play), play by Jean Anouilh (1941)
In Anouilh's version of the Orpheus myth time is slowed down and the
meeting of Orpheus and Eurydice is explored. Anouilh writes Eurydice as a lost soul,
whose main action in the play is to hide from the difficulties in life. Orpheus is a lover
of life, who equates life with his love of Eurydice. The play revolves mostly around
Orpheus, as many versions of the myth do. It is Orpheus, in this version, to make the
decision to turn around and look upon Eurydice.

Orpheus Descending, play by Tennessee Williams (1957)

Well, nothing is more precious to anybody than the emotional record of his
youth, and you will find the trail of my sleeve-worn heart in his completed play that I now
call Orpheus Descending.
Tennessee Williams adaptation of the Orpheus myth takes the characters of Orpheus
and Eurydice and places them in a rough and tough American town. Orpheus, named
Val in Williams play, is a traveling musician who wanders into the town where the
character Lady lives. Lady, the representation of Eurydice, is a woman whose life has

seemingly been
taken from her.
Val attempts to
rescue Lady
from this
miserable life,
and at the end
does not
succeed. Like
the original
myth the play
centers around
Val, (Orpheus),
and Lady while
given a voice,
cannot fight her

Metamorphoses, play by Mary Zimmerman (2002)

Orpheus X Rinde Eckhart (2007) Eckhart has taken the myth of Orpheus and
Eurydice and created a rock opera, one of many different types of performance art
created by this playwright. In a manner similar to Sarah Ruhl, Eckhart gives Eurydice a
voice, and in the end the choice to die and forget. The story presents both characters as
they travel through their own separate worlds, but the transformation of character is seen
in Eurydice.

In Film:
Black Orpheus, film
by Marcel Camus

In Art:

Orpheus & Eurydice 1511

painting by Titian

Orphe et Eurydice (1650-1651)]

painting by Nicolas Poussin

Orpheus and Eurydice, 1862 painting by Edward Poynter

Orpheus and Eurydice, probably modeled before 1887, executed 1893. Auguste Rodin (French,
18401917) Marble; H. 50 in. (127 cm)

Orpheus Mourning the Death of Eurydice, 1814 painting by Ary Scheffer


Sarah Ruhl
Sarah Ruhl was born January 24,
1974 to Patrick and Kathy Ruhl in Chicago,
Illinois. Ruhl grew up in the Chicago suburb
of Wilmette and also spent considerable
time visiting her familys home state of Iowa.
Her mother, Kathy Kehoe Ruhl acted and
directed plays while teaching high school
English. She holds a PhD. in Language,
Literacy, and Rhetoric from the University of
Illinois. Ruhls father, Patrick Ruhl marketed
toys. He held a degree in history from
Amherst College. To complete the Ruhl
family is Ruhl's older sister Kate, who is a
Sarah Ruhl grew up in a house hold
that fostered her writing and imagination.
She began telling stories before she could
write, which she would dictate to her
mother(Al-Shamma pg. 9). Ruhl said she
started writing poetry around the age of six
and she always intended to become a writer
of some sort. Ruhl wrote her first play in in
the fourth grade, "a courtroom drama about landmasses." Ruhl grew up attending
rehearsals with her mother and even took classes at the Piven Theatre Workshop while
in the fourth grade. At this theater the emphasis was on "language, not scenery, and on
transformation" (Al-Shamma pg.7).
After graduating high school Ruhl did her undergraduate work at Brown
University, under the guidance of Paula Vogel. While attending Brown Ruhl lost her
father, when she was only twenty years old. This would have a significant impact on her
writing. Shortly after his death, Ruhl in Paula Vogel's class she was asked to write a
play. Ruhl wrote her first play entitled Dog Play. This play looked at loss through the
eyes of dog, whose master has just died. While reading Ruhl's play Paula found herself
in tears and knew that Ruhl had a gift for writing plays. Vogel considers Ruhl uniquely
talented amongst her many accomplished proteges(Al-Shamma pg. 7). Vogel
encouraged Ruhl to keep writing plays. Ruhl had entered college considering herself a
poet. Ruhl wrote poetry before she wrote plays, publishing a collection of verse entitled,
Death in Another Country. It was bundled with the work of two other poets in a volume
titled Troika VI, published by Thorntree Press in 1995. Ruhl said, "I think I had trouble
knowing where my own voice fit in...because I thought the language of poetry school
was elitist. I felt it shut out normal people who just liked to read and have emotions and
put emotions into writing."
Ruhl wrote the first two acts of The Passion Play while in her undergrad program.
"The first part was awarded the Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award through the

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and thus qualified for a reading at
the Sundance Theater Laboratory in 2000" (Al-Shamma pg. 22). This mounting of Ruhl's
work helped to solidify her as a playwright. Much of her plays are influenced by her
poetic background. Ruhl says "the play itself became a kind of poetic idiom so I didn't
have to steal from my own work."
She graduated with a degree in English in 1997. Ruhl then spent the next two
years teaching in arts education before returning to Brown for an MFA in playwriting,
which she completed in 2001.Ruhl married Anthony Charuvastra, a child psychiatrist, on
a mountaintop outside of LA in 2005. Ruhl gave birth to her daughter Anna in 2006 and
twins in early 2010.
Ruhl's first offical play produced was Meloncholy Play, in 2001. This has been
followed over the last ten years by others such as, Late, a Cowboy Song, Eurydice,
The Clean House, Passion Play, Dead Man's Cell Phone, In the Next Room, Stage
Kiss, and Eldest Boy. Ruhl's Broadway premiere was in 2009, with In the Next Room.

Speaking about her work, Ruhl says, "I was so influenced by Maria Irene Fornes
who was my teacher at a point. She would say this hilarious thing when someone would
ask her, "what am I supposed to take away from this play, Irene?" She would say, "my
play is not a doggy bag. You can't take anything away." Much of her plays content
comes from her exploration of her own life and areas that she becomes curious about.
Ruhl says, "One thing I was talking about to someone recently was this old dictum write
what you know. And how I would revise it and say expand what you know. And then
write." Heavy issues of life, love, and death lie at the heart of her drama, but she treats
them with a deft touch, keeping humor close at hand even while plumbing the depths of
despair and bereavement(Al-Shamma pg. 6).
Ruhl was a member of 13P and New Dramatists. She currently is a teacher at
Yale school of drama.

List of Awards & Accomplishments. 2005 The Clean House Harold and Mimi
Steinberg/American Theatre Critics
Unsurpassed among female playwrights in Association New Play Citation
the United States for frequency of 2006 Passion Play, a cycle Helen Hayes
production. Awards nomination for best new play
2000 Passion Play The Fourth Freedom 2006 MacArthur Fellowship recipient.
Forum Playwriting Award from The Kennedy 2008 Dead Man's Cell Phone Harold and
Center Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Criticts
2003 Whiting Writers Award. Association New play Citation
2003 Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights 2008 Dead Man's Cell Phone Helen Hayes
Award Award for best new play
2004 The Clean House Susan Smith 2010In the Next Room A Tony Award
Blackburn Prize Nominee (three categories)
2005 The Clean House Pulitzer Prize 2010PEN Award.
Finalist 2010 Feminist Press, Forty under Forty
2010 Lilly Award

Her plays have been translated into German,

Polish, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.
Been produced outside of the United States in
Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Latvia, New
Zealand, Australia, and Poland.

1998 Orlando adapted from Virginia Woolf

2000 Anna Around the Neck adapted from

Anton Chekhov

2000 The Lady with the Lapdog adapted from

Anton Chekhov Both Chekhov short stories
were commissioned by Joyce Piven and
presented as part of the program Chekhov:
The Stories.

2002 Virtual Meditation #1 A multimedia,

interactive piece in collaboration with Carnegie
Mellon University's Technology Center &
commissioned by The Actor's Theatre of

2002 First play produced- Meloncholy Play at

Piven Theatre Workshop, directed by Jessica Thebus

2003 Late: A Cowboy Song- Clubbed Thumb

2003 Eurydice-Madison Reperatory Theater

2004 The Clean House- Yale Repertory Theatre

Yale Reparatory Theater 2006
2005 The Passion Play- Arena Stage

2006 Demeter in the City Commissioned by a Cornerstone Theater

2007 Snowless A one Act. Chicago Humanities Festival.

2007 Dead Man's Cell Phone-Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

2009 In the Next Room, or the vibrator play- Berkley Repertory

2011 The Three Sisters adapted from Anton Chekhov

2011 Stage Kiss

2012 Dear Elizabeth adapted from Words in Air.


2014 The Oldest Boy

In an interview with Paula Vogel and Anne Bogart Ruhl says, "I think every play
is a big 'I don't know,' a big 'What if?' otherwise, why would you write it?" This idea of
exploration encapsulates so many elements of Ruhl's writing. The topics explored in
Ruhl's plays stem from her exploration of the world and more specifically in Eurydice,
the grief Ruhl feels over the loss of her father."I think what characters learn is
sometimes so unutterable, or else totally encased in the poetry of language-the answer
is the play in a way."
To understand the world that Sarah Ruhl brings to life onstage one must know a
bit of important information first. First, Ruhl does not use an Aristotelian story arch, the
kind where rising action and a climax end in a resolution. Instead, Ruhl has expressed
a preference for a type of drama based on Ovid rather than Aristotle, one abounding in
small transformations rather than one in which a protagonist pursues a goal and then
learns from the experience of either overcoming or being defeated by an obstacle(Al-
Shamma pg. 8). Ruhl's focus is on small transformations and creating moments
Secondly, Ruhl is a Language based playwrights (pg. 16). A Language based
playwright as one who does, not attempt to mirror or represent the visible world; rather,
they create a theatrical parallel to it, a world with its own ontology and contentions. (pg.
16) Ruhl takes the audience from our own reality for a course of a few hours, explores a
very human idea, and then invites the audience to step back into the reality of our world.
One cannot watch a play written by Sarah Ruhl and hold that world of the play to the
same physical and scientific laws of our own world. In many ways Sarah Ruhl writes in a
way similar to the playwrights of the modernist era of theater, rather than the realists of
the late nineteenth century. Like Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest, Ruhl
lifts ideas, language, and fantasy to a level that seems strange. The goal of the
language playwright is to explore a representation of the world, as opposed to imitation
of real action or language within the real world.( pg. 18).
Thirdly, Sarah Ruhl's characters are not action driven, so much as they are living
in the moments that she shapes onstage. Ruhl is not interested in writing theater of
action. She is interested in characters emotions and states of being. (pg. 73). The
characters are emotionally driven onstage, and it is those emotions that guide the
action, rather than the emotions being a byproduct of action. Emotions can give rise to

desires, and desires can give rise to emotions, but an emotion does not need desire for
an object in order to be itself. (pg. 73). There are many moments in Eurydice where a
character is sitting with an idea, most often specifically grief. After Eurydice decides to
call out to Orpheus, the moment where she chooses death and her father, both
Eurydice and Orpheus speak at the same time, facing forward. This particular moment
onstage is a moment of grief and lamenting.
In using this specific structure, Ruhl allows her characters to rest, and take large
amounts of time to explore the different feelings and emotions one may have in a
particular moment or a particular situation. (pg.81). Actors and Directors working on
Ruhl's works need to allow time onstage for characters, as well as the actors, to live into
these moments that Ruhl has written.
Ruhl asks her actors to explore what it feels like to experience humanity, not what you
do about it. (pg. 91).


The stage directions in Sarah Ruhl's plays guide this unique structure. Rather
than use stage directions as dictations of actions, Ruhl allows them to be points of
communication between the playwright and the actors. The stage directions exist in
between spoken lines, offering necessary insights into her characters lives and the
theatrical experience as a whole.( pg. 2-3). Ruhl does not include actions in the stage
directions, as much as she includes a statement about a character. In the beginning of
Eurydice the father has these stage directions, " He is affectionate, then solemn, then
glad, then amused, then solemn. " ( pg. 16).
There are moments of rest, where the emotions of the moment can live. Ruhl
celebrates the white space in the margins of both poetry and plays, insisting that a good
writer knows when to keep his or her mouth shut so the line can sing. (Al-Shamma,
Sarah Ruhl 8). Ruhl not only uses her stage directions to guide and explore emotion,
but to help give moments of pause for reflection, allowing the characters to breath into
their circumstances. A key music-based strategy utilized by... Ruhlis the orchestrated
rest...The overall effect provides contour to the scene by alternating the rhythm between
spoken and unspoken segments (pg. 20).
As audience members, stage directions are usually seen in the action of the
characters, but with Ruhl's writing they are witnessed as the moments of rest, or
perhaps build into the visible story, as when in Eurydice a stage direction reads,
"Raspberries, peaches, and plums drop from the ceiling into the River. Perhaps only in
our imaginations." (Eurydice, pg. 56). Stage directions are usually elements that the
audience takes for granted, but in Ruhl the stage directions become part of the visible

Eurydice in Sarah Ruhls100 Essays I Dont Have Time to Write on Umbrellas and Sword
Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater

Sarah Ruhls 100 Essays is an anthology of 100 short and incomplete essays about a
variety of topics regarding theater, playwriting, acting, motherhood, and life in general. There are
many references to Ruhl's plays, including Eurydice. Reading Ruhls comments on theater
culture and playwriting can radically reinforce the audiences' interpretation of the play.
Here are some essays that best describe the elements behind Eurydice.
2. Umbrellas on stage
a. Ruhl shows appreciation for the onstage usage of umbrellas and what
they represent. To Ruhl, the umbrella serves as a second sky to the user; a
sky from which no rain falls. Regarding seeing umbrellas onstage, it creates an
effect on the audience in which they feel both wet and dry. Although the rain
onstage is fictitious and synthetic, the audiences can enjoy a rainstorm while also
staying dry.
4. On Titlescomedy and tragedy
a. Ruhl notices that tragedies are often named after the primary
character, such as King Lear, Hamlet, and Julius Ceasar. Ruhl hypothesizes that
this may be because tragedies are about personal loss that lasts for eternity. This
is a significant piece considering Eurydice is titled exactly like a tragedy, and the
play centers on the concept of loss of both the self and others.
9. Should characters have last names?
a. None of the characters in Eurydice have last names. The characters are
either named after their mythic counterparts, or named for their primary
purpose/characteristic (Father, Lord of the Underworld, The
Stones). ForThe Clean House, Ruhl refused to give a character a last
name simply because Ruhl did not believe the character had a last name.
This tendency to avoid surnames is evident in Eurydice, and is
also signifigant since the Greeks did not use last names at all.
10. An essay in praise of smallness.
a. Ruhl admires minimalism.
16. On Ovid
a. In writing, there are six plot forms: Aristotelian, Circular, Backward,
Repetitive, Associative, and Synthetic Fragment. Ruhl proposes a seventh
form: Ovidian, in which transformation and change is the driving force of plot and
action. The phrase people fall in love and die is an example of change
in Ovidian form (Ruhl 32). Perhaps Ruhl is suggesting that her play Eurydice is
written in Ovidian form, not only because Ovid was one of the original storytellers
of Orpheus and Eurydice, but because change and transformation are prominent
elements in the play.
19. Satyr plays inside tragedies
a. Ruhl mentions that in Ancient Greece, Satyr plays were performed before
comedies as a form of appetizer to the larger spectacle. The question of whether
or not satyr plays are now supposed to be inserted into modern tragedies is
questioned, and Ruhl comments that she is not interested in separating things by
genre regardless.
20. On knowing

a. Ruhl confesses that she does not know everything, and claims that she
does not attempt to present a thesis in her plays.
21. The necessary
a. Sometimes the most unnecessary things in plays are the most
necessary. Ruhl suggests that the driving force of a play may reside in the most
overlooked parts of a script.
30. Subtext to the left of the work, not underneath the work.
a. Directly addressing the reader, Ruhl asks If youre acting in a play of
mine, and I say this full of love for you, please, dont think one thing and then say
another thing. Think the thing you are saying" (Ruhl 66). The dialogue
in Ruhls plays, including Eurydice, contains little or no subtext, and the dialogue
is meant to be performed and understood as written.
34. Being in a pure state vs. playing an action
a. Ruhl values the actor who can be in a state over one who can perform
an action. In other words, it is more important to be rather than to do. An
example provided by Ruhl is when Maria Dizza, while playing the role of
Eurydice, complained that there where no pillars to hide behind. Dizza was
referring to the lack of places in the language in which she can find emotional
shelter. The actress playing Eurydice is put in a pure state thanks to
Sarah Ruhls writing.
37. Conflict is drama?
a. In improvisation, two actors must always agree. In drama, two actors
must always disagree. Ruhl believes that drama should go beyond conflict.
Drama is also the content and spectacle of the play, which does not always mean
42. Eurydice in Germany
a. Here, Ruhl discusses a German production of Eurydice that took several
liberties with the script, including opening the play with a Heiner Mller prologue,
giving the father a long beard, using four flying stones instead of three stationary
stones, replacing Orpheus monologues with rock songs, and putting clown
makeup on all the characters. However, despite these changes, Ruhl praises the
actress playing Eurydice, despite having little comprehension of the spoken
language. This suggests that the feeling of the play transcends language and is
carried by rhythm instead.
87. Storms on stage
a. The fact that storms on stage have become rare and symbolic
confuses Ruhl, since storms in real life are actually very common and
very natural. She hypothesizes that this is because storms, by nature, are
unexplainable, and unexplainable things are stage are therefore considered
94. On standard dramatic formatting
a. Ruhl wonders why stage directions are written in parenthesis and not
given their own format separate from the dialogue. In the Eurydice script, all
stage directions are written as their own paragraphs and sentences. The
exception to this is when the stage directions occur in the middle of a monologue.
Then it is written in parenthesis.


"I'm really optimistic about the future of the theater...I think the future of the theater includes
stories from all walks of life, has a new and engaged populist relationship with the audience, has
a new and more diverse audience." Sarah Ruhl

Production History
"That poem and myth have stayed with me for a long time. I'm also compelled by the questions
the myth raises about music and language. Eurydice is a transparently personal play." -Sarah

Euyrdice receieved 14 stage readings, before it was seen by a paying audience.

Thoughts that Sarah Ruhl had while workshopping Eurydice:

"But the artists I met along the way definitely opened me up, opened up the possibilities of how
thought it could be staged."
"I also know that the play can
be done in a really simple,
bare kind of a way."

Premiered at Madison
Repertory Theater in
September 2003, under the
direction of Richard Corley.

New York premiere off-

Broadway at Second Stage
Theatre June 18August 26,

San Francisco Chronicle- critiquing the 2004 Berkeley Repertory Theater production
pangs of longing strike heartbreaking chords; furthermore, the scenes between father and
daughter are rich in beautifully observed tenderness and the conclusion is as poignantly
rewarding as it is luminously ambiguous.
East Bay Express-beautifully sad and notes that the fathers wistful dancing provoked
sniffling from the audience, while the actor playing Orpheus does his share of tear-jerking too.
There wasnt a dry eye in the house at the end of each show.
Stamford Advocate- Ive never laughed so much at a production that I left feeling so
devastated and Eurydice offers a heartbreaking exploration of the theme of loss.
New York Times- Charles Isherwood Devastatingly lovely- and just plain devastating."
"Just be the most moving exploration of the theme of loss that the American Theater has
produced since the events of September 11,2001 and that he fought off tears for half the play,
not always successfully. "It is about every death, every loss, every paralyzing pang of grief."

New York Times- "I suspect that Eurydice will get under your skin either in all the right
ways or all the wrong ones. I first saw the play, in this production, at Yale Repertory Theater last
fall, and its hallucinatory imagery and emotional allure have remained with me. Encountering it
again, I staggered out of the theater in the same state of sad-happy disorientation that I recall
from my initial viewing."


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