Eurydice's life in production began with a workshop at Brown University's New Play Festival in 2001; another workshop at the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis ran later that year. In 2003, the play premiered at Madison Repertory Theatre, and in 2004, a production at Berkeley Rep followed, directed by long-time Ruhl collaborator Les Waters.
A summary of dramatic events does little to capture Eurydice’s essence, which unfolds through stylized language and images. Ruhl’s characters often process the world in metaphor, existing outside the bounds of ‘natural, everyday’ speech and experience. The world of Eurydice is certainly in dialogue with the classical myth from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, but this version also integrates pieces of Shakespeare, 50s doo-wop, and the modern legends of family lore. Thus, this collaged script, which sometimes jumps between monologues and vignettes and long physical gestures, very much embraces its own theatricality – this is a story meant to be told inventively, through the non-literal magic of theater. Simultaneously, the spectacle of the show (like the raining elevator) should all be in service of the play’s central struggle: the beautiful risk of loving, and the long suffering that follows when that love is lost.
Unsurprisingly, grief and loss were also central to Ruhl’s writing of Eurydice. Ruhl began to compose the play during grad school at Brown, and she describes Eurydice as a kind of “cultural ritual to organize [her] feelings” after her father died of bone cancer. Many of their father-daughter rituals – like the teaching of words and their etymologies – appear in the play, which is dedicated to him. Thus, as much as this Eurydice is a traditional love story between Orpheus and his bride, it is perhaps more centrally an examination of the particular, transformative love between fathers and daughters.
Since writing Eurydice, one of her earlier plays, Ruhl has been awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for In the Next Room: The Vibrator Play.