Don’t look back: The story of Eurydice, Orpheus and loss

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Kyle Orem and Aubrey Bench star in the theater department’s production of “Eurydice.”

Loss is part of life. Perhaps that’s why the story of the Greek poet Orpheus, descending into the depths of the Underworld to retrieve his bride from the world of the dead, hits home for so many people.


The theater department brings the story of Eurydice (pronounced yoo-RID-uh-see) to the Noorda Theater with the hopes of making a personal connection with each audience member. Letters written by the cast, crew and theatergoers to individuals each has lost will be on display in an art project called “The Dear Eurydice Project.”


During the play, Orpheus is able to write and send letters to his deceased wife Eurydice. Just as in real life, however, Eurydice is unable to read the letters she receives from her loved one. Director and second-year faculty member Lisa Hall Hagen explains this as a “poignant, bittersweet effect” that will help spectators connect with the story.


Greek plays usually speak across time and space, Hagen explained, but that the voice is sometimes missing when the plays are made into contemporary shows.


“So often, we forget that contemporary works have that sense of universality and connection,” Hagen said.


Having written a letter for her father to be included in the art project, Hagen has a personal understanding of the feelings that she wants attendees to experience. The reward, she said, is not without risks though.


Hagen said that she likes to “bleed a little bit” for the shows that she puts on, because it can be a very enlightening experience. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable and open can be terrifying, yet terrific at the same time.


“A little bit of terror,” Hagen said, smiling, “is a very positive thing.”


The cast and crew read from these letters before each rehearsal to help stay focused on their end goal of helping people understand feelings about loss they have experienced. As much focus as they are putting on this, though, not everyone is quite ready to face those feelings.


Sophomore Aubrey Bench, who plays Eurydice, explained that she wrote letters for the project, but is afraid to submit them to be shown to the public.


But that’s just fine, according to Kyle Oram, senior Theater Performance major who plays Orpheus.


“It’s not that we have a particular agenda; the idea is just to let people take from it what they need,” Oram said.


That seems to be the consensus among the cast. Bench described what they’re looking for as a sense of communion, explaining that if they can make even one person feel something, then it’s worth it.


“It’s a short play, but those 90 pages can really effect you – over the rehearsal time it’s really changed me,” Bench said.

Eurydice will run at the Noorda Theater from Oct. 13 through Nov. 4 with shows at 7:30 p.m. There will also be two matinees at 10 a.m. Oct. 26 and 2 p.m. Oct. 29. For more information visit or call 801-863-6820.