Hamid Dehghani’s production of ‘Eurydice’ tells a story of memory and love

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Ben Bomier/The Daily Northwestern

The cast of “Eurydice.” The play retells the Greek myth of Eurydice as a story of memory and love.

Rebecca Aizin, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

After reading all of Sarah Ruhl’s plays, director and MFA Communication second year Hamid Dehghani was drawn to “Eurydice,” a play centered around memory.

“Most people are dealing with something they don’t want to remember- a sorrow or a grievance,” Dehghani said. “‘Eurydice’ is about what we decide to forget intentionally.”

Dehghani’s production of Ruhl’s “Eurydice” will premiere on Jan. 31 for a three day run in the Hal & Martha Hyer Wallis Theater. The show is part of Wirtz’s MFA Lab Series, which provides MFA directing students an opportunity to direct a production on campus.

The Greek myth of Eurydice centers around her escape with her lover, Orpheus, from the underworld. Ruhl retells the story as one of grief and family. Eurydice reunites with her father in the underworld, only to find out his memory has been washed away in a “pool of forgettory.” As she tries to remind her father of their relationship, Orpheus makes every effort to get her back to the real world, and Eurydice struggles to choose between the two men.

After losing a family member in December, School of Communication junior Saidie Stone went through a difficult period of grief, reminiscent of Eurydice’s struggles with missing her father.

She said playing Eurydice made her think about how someone can be remembered and honored without letting it take over their lives, helping her understand the experience of her own grief.

“I think a lot about when memories become so painful, it’s easier to just forget rather than think about the loss of someone,” Stone said.

Dehghani said a challenge every crew member involved in the show had to overcome was how to make this production unique and progressive. With their minimal budget, there were many restrictions on the creative ideas the team produced. However, Dehghani said this challenge led to opportunities for more creative choices and a chance to push themselves harder.

Set designer and MFA communication 3rd-year Myra Reavis echoed Dehghani’s desire to make this production innovative, and researched previous productions in order to find a unique concept for the set. Typical productions of Eurydice represent memory through the flow of water, and the sets contain an elevator filled with rain in order to capture this metaphor. This was not feasible for Dehghani’s adaptation, so Reavis said this forced the crew to rethink the use of water while still bringing the same metaphor to life.

“It’s so tied to a language understanding with your team and having the emotional understanding of image you’re portraying,” Reavis said. “So much of where we start is guttural, just pulling things you emotionally react to before letting your logical brain begin.”

Ultimately, Dehghani said they came up with the use of sand to represent memory, evoking a dry atmosphere unique to this production.

Despite the challenges they faced, Reavis spoke of the upcoming play with pride.

“It’s really powerful when all the elements come together,” Reavis said. “It’s like this hugely emotional, impactful goal feels just as magical as you ever wanted it to be in your head and then it’s there on stage.”

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