Presented by the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia
January 21 – February 6, 2016 | 7:30PM
Frederic Wood Theatre, 6354 Crescent Rd
Adult: $24.50, Seniors: $16.50, Students: $11.50
Second-year MFA directing candidate Keltie Forsyth directs Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice on the Frederic Wood Theatre stage. Featuring performances by BFA acting students, this production runs January 21 through February 6, 2016.
Haunting, evocative, and minimalist; this contemporary American retelling of the Ancient Greek Orpheus and Eurydice myth is a fairytale for those who still believe in them. Eurydice’s father has been writing her letters from Hades, but when a dangerous stranger tempts Eurydice with the details, she is soon sent tumbling after him. Orpheus goes to get his girl but both must follow the underworld’s rules in order to find their way home.
Professor and Head, Department of Theatre and Film
Welcome back to the Frederic Wood Theatre and the second production of this Theatre at UBC season. Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice is a challenging and poetic play, a perfect way to launch us into the New Year. It is also a high point in the academic calendar for Keltie Forsyth and Heipo Leung whose work in this production marks the major aspect of their thesis requirements toward a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre.
I have become very aware in this production of the influence of our theatre and our department on generations of students’ families at UBC. Keltie Forsyth will complete her MFA this year. Her father, Kenneth Brown, completed his theatre degree here at UBC in 1978, and her grandmother, Karin Cuff, was involved in a summer program for high school students under the tutelage of our department’s founder, Dorothy Somerset. Michael Fera, playing Eurydice’s father, is a graduate of this department’s Acting Program and is the real life father of Seamus Fera, who is an Intermediate Year acting student and a member of the chorus in this production. (Michael met Seamus’ mother, Tanja Dixon-Warren, in our department, as well.) Michael’s father and Seamus’ grandfather, Rinaldo Fera, was at UBC and very involved when there was only the UBC Players Club and was directed by Dorothy Somerset. It is very exciting to witness the generations of our influence on the Frederic Wood stage.
Next up for our department is Naked Cinema, the collaboration between the theatre and film units of the department, which will be shown at the Norm Theatre in the old Students’ Union Building, February 1 and 2; a perfect chance to experience the range of talent possessed by our graduating BFA acting class who you will have already seen during our opening production of Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I hope you are enriched and enchanted by tonight’s production.
Keltie Forsyth, Director, UBC's production of EURYDICE
Director and Master of Fine Arts candidate Keltie Forsyth:
“What if lightness is a philosophical choice to temper reality with strangeness, to temper intellect with emotion, to temper emotion with humour. Lightness is then a philosophical victory over heaviness. A reckoning with the humble and small and invisible.” – Sarah Ruhl
I’m obsessed with Sarah Ruhl. I have been since I first read The Clean House in 2010. By then, she’d already received the MacArthur Fellowship, and Eurydice had been produced hundreds of times (this year alone, there will be 24 productions of the play across the US and Canada). So, despite feeling like I’d just made a miraculous discovery, I was really jumping on a quickly filling bandwagon.
The thing I find so engaging about Ruhl’s work is the quirky blend of emotional depth, whimsy, soaring imagery and down to earth humour. There is something innately feminine about her work, though it is rarely overtly feminist. Her work embraces a gentler, more emotionally expressive, less linear and more sensual and imagistic quality, and none of her plays more so than Eurydice. That might be why it is produced so much. It’s not the cleanest, most mature or easily staged of her plays, but it contains a commitment to the haunting imagery, humour and poetic language that characterize Ruhl’s work.
So, why this play? And why now? I’ve been asked these two questions over and over. And I answer, academically and practically and rarely with the whole truth: because it moves me, it delights me, it opens me to my own griefs and my own joys. It removes me from my most cynical self and reminds me of my most idealistic. It fills me with wonder. Because in all of the ways it is imperfect and human, it is, as Ruhl says, a triumph of lightness.
Thanks so much to my MFA advisors: Stephen Malloy for making me question everything, Tom Scholte for helping me find my confidence, Stephen Heatley for supporting me every step of the way, and to my cohort Evan Frayne for his companionship and friendship over the past 18 months. Thanks too the Sydney Risk Foundation and Canadian Federation of University Women of South Delta, whose support could not have come at a better time.
Thanks to the designers for helping me see this play, and to the production team, especially Jay, Jim, Jodi, Brad and Lynn who made the impossible happen over and over again. Thanks to Cathy and Gayle for their amazing eyes and ears. And the biggest thanks I can give to the cast for jumping in with both feet, working hard and making me laugh and cry – occasionally at the same time. It’s been a blast guys! And finally, thanks to all of my family, but especially: Heather without whom I would be badly dressed, underfed and homeless; Ken for dog care and breakfasts and shared rants; and Alex and Link for the kind of love you only get from dogs and the very best of humans. I couldn’t do this without you guys.
I hope you enjoy the show!
More about Keltie: kiaproductions.com
Sarah Ruhl, Playwright of UBC's production of EURYDICE
(Excerpt from: sarahruhlplaywright.com):
Sarah Ruhl’s Plays include In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee for best new play), The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize Finalist, 2005; The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, 2004); Passion Play, a cycle (Pen American award, The Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center); Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Helen Hayes award); Melancholy Play; Eurydice; Orlando, Demeter in the City (NAACP nomination), Late: a cowboy song, Three Sisters, and most recently, Stage Kiss and Dear Elizabeth.
Her plays have been produced on Broadway at the Lyceum by Lincoln Center Theater, off-Broadway at Playwrights’ Horizons, Second Stage, and at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater, and downtown at Clubbed Thumb and Classic Stage Company. Her plays have been produced regionally all over the country, with premieres at Yale Repertory Theater, the Goodman Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Arena Stage, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Madison Repertory Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cornerstone Theater, and the Piven Theatre Workshop in Chicago.
Her plays have also been produced internationally in London, Germany, Australia, Canada and Israel, and have been translated into Polish, Russian, Spanish, Norwegian, Korean, German and Arabic.
Originally from Chicago, Ms. Ruhl received her M.F.A. from Brown University where she studied with Paula Vogel. In 2003, she was the recipient of the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award and the Whiting Writers’ Award. She was a member of 13P and of New Dramatists and won the MacArthur Fellowship in 2006. She was recently the recipient of the PEN Center Award for a mid-career playwright, the Feminist Press’ Forty under Forty award, and the 2010 Lilly Award. She is currently on the faculty at Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family.
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UBC Theatre and Film, University of British Columbia, Room 203, 6354 Crescent Road, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
NICOLE YUKIKO SEKIYA