In just three performances at the end of April, Rose of Athens Theatre presented Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. You didn’t see it, of course, so why bring it up now? Well, I guess, so that just maybe you’ll go next time Rose of Athens does something or will just go to some play somewhere. (See this week’s Theater Notes for suggestions.)
Here’s a tip: Any time you hear that a Sarah Ruhl play is being performed, go. Her stuff is weirdly funny: serious but offbeat, with surreal touches. Town and Gown has done two of her plays recently, The Clean House and Stage Kiss. Eurydice is more serious, but it still has those Ruhl touches. It is based, of course, on the Orpheus myth so compellingly brought to the screen as Black Orpheus. Eurydice dies, and Orpheus goes down to Hades and tries to bring her back.
Rose of Athens has a new office/class/rehearsal space, very much off-off Broadway, a small area in the back of a warehouse at 150 Fritz Mar Lane, off Newton Bridge Road. (Find it at roseofathens.org.) Rose of Athens teaches a lot of classes and has performed in various venues around town. This was the first show in what they are calling Rose Hall.
All of this is to say that their production of Eurydice demonstrated the magic of theater and the richness of the Athens acting community. Rose of Athens was founded by Lisa Cesnik Ferguson. Danielle Bailey Miller (who most recently played the delightful Nurse Wilson in Town and Gown’s A Month of Sundays) is Artistic Director. Even for a one-weekend show, Rose of Athens was able to pull together a first-rate group of actors and mount this play in their tiny space, creating something magic and thrilling. In fact, the small space and spare set enhanced the impact, pulling the audience bodily into the play. Gary T. Moore directed, Jennifer Phelps was state manager, and the cast included Anna Pieri as Eurydice, Daniel Stock as Orpheus, Greg Voyles as Interesting Man/Lord of the Underworld, Skip Hulett as Father, Sean Polite as Big Stone, Ginny Simmons as Loud Stone and Alysse Filler as Small Stone. That’s right, they played stones that made up a sort of chorus, and they sat there onstage the whole play.
Next up for Rose of Athens is their summer Shakespeare Under the Stars outside Jittery Joe’s Roaster on Barber Street. They’ll be doing Two Gentlemen of Verona June 15–18.
The moral of this encomium is that Athens is full of people who love theater enough to put in incredibly long hours for even a small part with the only reward the thrill of doing it.
For a small ticket price you can enjoy the results of their work right up close to the stage. Sure, the magic doesn’t always strike, but when it’s there, as it was in Eurydice, you feel it, and you feel the thrill, too. The play’s the thing!
Back by Popular Demand
Thanks to the generosity of the filmmakers, Athens in Our Lifetimes has been held over for another week, May 20–24, at Athens Ciné. Check Cine’s website, athenscine.com, for showtimes, and while you’re there, reserve your tickets. Even though the shows are free, you need a ticket to get in, and a donation to Buy Ciné would be appreciated, if you want to help support our local art house. Last week a lot of people got turned away for lack of a (free) ticket.
As you probably know by now, this film, produced and directed by Kathy Prescott and Grady Thrasher, was shot and edited by Matt DeGennaro and includes interviews with 90 Athenians as well as some great archival footage of Athens back in the day—in some cases, way back.
Matt, with Kathy and Grady looking over his shoulder, edited over 200 hours of interviews into this hour-and-a-half documentary, and they donated the full interviews to UGA’s Russell Library archives—a priceless reservoir of Athens people talking about their town. Wouldn’t we love to have such a record from past generations?
I’m one of those talking heads, and I drone on too much. Even so, this film helps us see how Athens got to be the place where so many of us feel right at home, although the town is already changing in ways that threaten to make it less special.
See it if you can, but be forewarned: A 10-year-old critic was overheard after the film last week saying, “Mom, that was a movie for old people! I mean, did you see anyone in the theater who was a good age?”
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