From stage managing to acting: A behind-the-scenes look at “Eurydice”

“This is what it is to love an artist: The moon is always rising above your house. The houses of your neighbors look dull and lacking in moonlight. But he is always going away from you. Inside his head there is always something more beautiful.”- Sarah Ruhl, “Eurydice” 

Eurydice production poster.

The Hope College Theatre Department’s second production of the semester will be taking the stage this coming weekend. “Eurydice,” written by Sarah Ruhl, is a modern retelling of the myth of the Greek hero, Orpheus, but from the perspective of his love, Eurydice. In the play and tale alike, Eurydice dies after the two lovers wed, and the story follows Orpheus as he ventures to the Underworld to find her. In the Underworld, Eurydice runs into her father and they are able to make up for lost time. 

One might wonder why this ancient story is important to society today and why the Theatre Department decided to pick up this challenge. Annika Dekker (’23), who is playing Eurydice, shed some light on this as well as answered a few other questions about the show and her experience within the theatre department so far. 

From Stage Manager to Actor… 

Dekker has not always been an actor at Hope— she has mostly been on the production side of theatre. This is actually her first time on stage at Hope, having only acted in the 10-Minute Plays. Before she landed the role of Eurydice, she had been an Assistant Stage Manager twice and a Stage Manager for “Ordinary Days.”

Due to her history in stage management, Dekker was a little nervous walking into auditions this semester. “Since I have mostly done stage management work for the department, I have been nervous that this is how faculty and staff would think of me,” Dekker said. “I am very grateful and appreciative of the acting opportunity I have been given this semester.”

Despite this fear though, she has been grateful for her stage management experience in the department. “Stage managing offered me a really unique perspective upon returning to acting,” Dekker said. “Having experience in both allows me to be considerate of everyone involved in the process of making a show happen. I know the stresses that stage managers, assistant stage managers, and actors experience. I know what an actor can do to relieve pressure on their stage manager and now the next time I stage manage — hopefully, I will do this again before I graduate — I will know how to reduce stress for my actors.” 

What Dekker brings up here is important to shed light on. Theatre is not by any means just about acting. There are so many other aspects in theatre that make a production what it is and that tend to go unnoticed by the audience. On top of this, it is also important for actors to do more backstage and technical jobs so that they can understand and learn to respect the difficult responsibilities that theatre technicians, directors and stage managers face. 

But now that Dekker is on the acting side of theatre, she is loving it all the same and has a lot to say about the meaning and importance of the play as well as her character. 

Dekker and her counterpart, Grant McKenzie (’24) at rehearsal.

Eurydice (as a person)

Most people know Eurydice as the love interest of Orpheus, but in Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation, she is much more than this. Dekker said, “On the surface, Eurydice seems like a naive character in this play. She makes some decisions that aren’t the smartest and many might wonder what she gets out of her relationship with Orpheus when they first read or see the play. However, I’ve learned that Eurydice has much more to her under the surface. She is filled with deep thoughts and ideas that she doesn’t get to express often. She’s also full of love for those around her, and it is that love that motivates much of her actions. At the same time, she has a deep curiosity that also motivates her — and unfortunately gets her in trouble.” 

In Ruhl’s version of the play, Eurydice goes on a wild journey that leads her all the way to the Underworld. Her actions are fueled by her love and care for the people in her life (and in death) and her desire to learn more about the world around her. 

From Dekker’s comments, it seems that everyone can learn something from this strong heroine. 

“Eurydice” (as a play)

At first glance, “Eurydice” might seem like just another classic retelling of an out-of-date Greek legend, but there are so many nuances added by Ruhl that extend the play into our world today. 

In relation to how she is connecting “Eurydice” to her world, Dekker said, “One theme I’ve noticed in ‘Eurydice’ is the idea of cherishing what you have when you have it. Orpheus and Eurydice are in love, but they are both often wrapped up in their own thoughts. I think they don’t always take the time to truly appreciate their relationship and once Eurydice dies, they are faced with that reality. At the same time, Eurydice gets to spend time with her father, something she hasn’t had a lot of time to do before the events of this play. So when she does get the chance, she listens to him as much as she can. I think this message is really important for today, especially for us college students. We are busy, busy, busy all the time. We have so much going on and I think sometimes we forget to cherish our friends, significant others, and family. It’s important to reach out to our loved ones, to make sure they know they’re appreciated. Our world is so individualistic and fast right now that we can’t let our important relationships get left behind.” 

So much of “Eurydice” is about grief over lost things. Out of this grief, the play also encourages the audience to look at what they have in the present and revel in it. So much of our lives are spent looking ahead and behind that we forget about what we have now and we forget to be grateful. Maybe this is why Hope chose “Eurydice”, and maybe this is why such an old story is so important even today. 

The cast consists of at least one person from each graduating class:

Eden Comer (’25) – Loud Stone

Grant McKenzie (’24) – Orpheus 

Brianna Tomczak (’24) – Little Stone

Annika Dekker (’23) – Eurydice

Adam Chamness (’23) – Big Stone

Sam Joachim (’22) – Eurydice’s Father

Zach Pickle (’22) – Nasty Interesting Man/Lord of the Underworld

Make sure to come out and support this phenomenal cast as they and we think about and approach topics such as life, loss, love and family. You do not want to miss it! Catch this beautiful production on November 12, 13, 18, 19, 20 at 7:30 pm and November 14 at 2 pm!

Abby Doonan ('24) is the Arts Editor for The Anchor and was previously a staff writer. She is a theatre and communication double major from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Abby loves acting, any music that makes her dance or sing, hula hooping, romcom movies, and all things Marvel. She is passionate about arts journalism and strives to publish content that keeps you updated on all the artsy things!

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