A Modern Take on Timeless Themes of Grief and Love

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Separation from loved ones is something everyone has experienced in one form or another. Grief, loss and how people handle them are what drew Caleb King to “Eurydice,” Bankside Repertory Theater’s first production of the 2017-2018 season. King is a member of the theater company and the play’s director. King previously directed the company’s 2016 “Who Am I This Time?”

“Eurydice” will be performed 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 14-16 and Sept. 21-23 at Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway, Alton, IL. A professionally crafted set extends past the traditional stage limiting seating to 50 and creating an intimate, all-encompassing experience.

“Eurydice” is a 2003 play by Sarah Ruhl that retells the myth of Orpheus from the perspective of Eurydice, his wife. Audience members may be familiar with Tennessee Williams’ 1957 drama “Orpheus Descending” and the 1959 film “Black Orpheus” by Marcel Camus, both inspired by the myth.

Told in three movements, Ruhl’s play focuses on Eurydice’s dilemma – return to earth with Orpheus or stay in the underworld with her father, a character created by the playwright. Ruhl made several other changes to the original myth’s storyline, most notably how Eurydice comes to remain in the Underworld. In the myth, Orpheus succumbs to his desires and looks back at Eurydice, which prevents her from returning to his world. But in Ruhl’s version, Eurydice calls out to Orpheus, causing him to look back. Is this because of a subconscious fear of reentering the world of the living or the result of her desire to remain in the land of the dead with her father?

Through dialogue, poetry and music, “Eurydice” explores universal themes of grief and loss, parental and romantic love and whether it is easier to forget the past or to cherish it with a broken heart.

Ruhl’s script was explicitly written so as to be a playground for the designer of the sets. Professional set and lighting director Alex Hauf-Belden has joined Bankside Rep and is creating the Underworld. 

 “We anticipate an extraordinary experience of transformation in this production. The East Gallery will become an underworld setting with rusted pipes creating a tree form from the central column and special lighting to suggest a raining elevator. The stage will project into the room with risers elevating the audience for prime viewing,” says Jacoby Arts Center board member Penny Schmidt.

This is Bankside Rep’s third season as a company and the start of their third season with Jacoby. The five core members of the ensemble bring a level of professional acting experience in big cities – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston – seldom seen in smaller communities.

“We’ve all come to Alton for a lot of different reasons,” says John O’Hagan, an associate professor of theater at Principia College and who plays Eurydice’s father. “I think one of the things that is unique about Bankside Repertory Theatre is it is a group of artists who have committed their lives, not their livelihoods but their lives, to finding and sharing stories that mean something to us and, therefore, we hope will mean something to the community.”

O’Hagan has worked professionally as an actor and director for numerous companies including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Contemporary Theatre, and Portland Repertory Theatre. He has also worked in commercials, voice over and small films. He is a founding member of Bankside Repertory Theatre and a member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Tickets are $10 for students with a valid ID on any evening. Regular admission is $15 on Thursdays and $20 on Fridays and Saturdays. Actor talk-backs on Fridays immediately following the show. Tickets can be purchased at the door or follow the link at http://www.jacobyartscenter.org/tickets. Seating is limited to 50 and is first come, first seated. Doors open 30 minutes in advance. A cash bar is available.

About Bankside Repertory Theater

Bankside Repertory Theater’s mission is to provide the audience with a healing perspective into their lives and the world around them; to encourage engagement with the arts as an essential element of a good life; and to provide quality theatre productions that are affordable and accessible. The company’s members include Geoff Callaway, Sue Ellen Coughtry, Caleb King, John O’Hagan and Chrissy Calkins Steel. Various guest artists join each production.

About the Jacoby Arts Center

The mission of the Jacoby Arts Center is to nurture and promote the practice and appreciation of the arts through education, exhibits, cultural programs and community outreach initiatives. Jacoby Arts Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Jacoby Arts Center is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway, Alton, IL 62002 / 618-462-5222 / jacobyartscenter@gmail.com


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