Eurydice puts a feminist spin on the Orpheus myth

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While Thor may be making a trip to earth to save mankind at the local Cineplex, over at Studio 16 in South Vancouver, Orpheus is making a trip to the Underworld in an effort to save his wife in the Secretly Women Productions presentation of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice.

Michael Barry AndersonA twist on the traditional Orpheus myth though, in Eurydice playwright Ruhl tells the story from the perspective of Orpheus’ wife.

“It gives it a feminist point of view,” explained Michael Barry Anderson (pictured right) who plays both Lord of the Underworld and the Nasty Interesting Man in this production. “It’s a story you haven’t heard before. It focuses on Eurydice’s relationships with her husband and her father. I think there’s something interesting about the bonds that a woman has in her life. Because the play is set in the 30s and the 50s it highlights the roles of women in that era. Eurydice ultimately breaks against the limitations put upon her by society, and that’s what makes her a feminist character.”

Not only telling the story from a female perspective, Ruhl has also changed one of the fundamental elements of the myth by having Euyrdice call out to Orpheus causing him to look back, where in the traditional myth Orpheus looks back simply out of desire for Euyridce.

“The play is fictional and I think the writer has creative freedom to make the story her own,” said Anderson. “This ending makes for a more exciting finale – bittersweet, yet endearing. The audience is taken on a journey where they feel for each character.”

Playing Lord of the Underworld/Nasty Interesting Man, Euyrdice is Anderson’s first speaking role in a stage play, and he couldn’t be more excited.

“I’m thrilled to be the villain in Eurydice. I’ve learned a lot about myself and had a lot of delicious challenges,” he said.  “The two roles have a common bond. They have different voices and mannerisms, but ultimately have the same motive. I’d also like to say that as someone with a deep voice and a tall body, playing a child has been a real challenge for me. Our director, Missy Cross, has worked hard with me to find that child.”

But along with the challenge of playing a child, Anderson also says he has had a great deal of fun with his “very, very sexual” role that he uses to manipulate and get what he wants.

“I coax Eurydice away from her husband and offer an adventurous alternative to married life. With Orpheus, I stand in the way of him reaching his wife. I toy with him before letting him pass through the gates of hell.”

Promising “chaos and creativity”, Anderson says that as a modern adaptation of a Greek tragedy it is ultimately a story of love, loss and responsibility for your actions.

And, apparently, a ten-foot tall demon.

Studio 16
23 May – 3 June 2011

Eurydice (Yuh-RID-ih-see) is a modern adaptation of the myth of Orpheus, but follows Eurydice and her decent to the Underworld where she meets her Father. Tickets are available online or by calling 778-228-8977. Visit Secretly Women Productions on Facebook for more information.

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