The Trip Brings Acclaimed Multidisciplinary Take on Orpheus and Eurydice to Strongwater
People, myself included, hold up the Orpheus myth as a cautionary tale. Its story of a headstrong musician who tried to rescue his betrothed, Eurydice, from Hades but couldn’t keep the faith, still has juice over a thousand years later.
The Trip, a company started in 2012 by Tom Dugdale and Joshua Kahan Brody, mount their acclaimed take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth at Strongwater next week after runs at packed houses in San Diego and New York. I spoke to Dugdale about the company, what brought him to Columbus, and their Orpheus and Eurydice.
Dugdale said, “Columbus may be the next stop for The Trip, I’m here for the foreseeable future. I’m OSU’s new acting-directing tenure-track faculty member.”
Talking about how the company started, Dugdale said, “I got a prize called the Princess Grace Award which goes to young artists in theater, dance, and film. That gave me a residency at the La Jolla Playhouse. The major project I jumped into was the Without Walls (WoW) festival of site-specific performance in 2012-2013. That was our production of [Thornton Wilder’s] Our Town, kind of as a backyard barbecue. We followed that up in San Diego with an adaptation of Macbeth and a brand new play in an old military barracks. The next festival, we did [Chekov’s] Three Sisters on a tennis court.” For this first Columbus journey, Dugdale said, “Four of us have worked in our shows before, two are coming from New York, and one is coming from Los Angeles. There are also two excellent young undergraduates from Ohio State I met in my first few months here.”
For their take on Orpheus and Eurydice, Dugdale said, “I got interested in it as a story of a couple that seems so one-sided to us in a way. It seems like she’s as important as he is in this story and what happens to her is the catalyst for the part of the story we know the best, the journey to the underworld. But she’s given so little time in most of the adaptations; we don’t know much about her. We started this thing saying ‘Let’s give Eurydice a voice.’ We’re not the only ones to do that but it was something really interesting to us.”
We talked about site-specific work, continued with this staging of Orpheus and Eurydice at Strongwater. “It’s a way of engaging new audiences. In San Diego we did Three Plays in a Tattoo Shop, three new plays done in a tattoo parlor. We tapped into a whole new audience of artsy, cool, tattoo loving people who never would have come to see our shows.”
“It also takes away the stage, it takes away the idea that the performer is over there and the audience is over here. It puts everyone in one room. There’s an immediacy that people seem to really respond to. We try to stage our shows with that in mind; to find ways of talking with the audience, whether it’s sharing text or offering them drinks.”
On this site, Dugdale said, “Strongwater’s in the same building as the STEAM Factory, who are supporting us a little bit. It’s an Ohio State collective of Arts and STEM.” Dugdale chucked, “We’re the ‘A’ in the middle. I went to one of their meetings, saw the space, and started the conversation. My producing partner said, ‘If this is an event space where they have weddings, that’s perfect.’ The frame of the live performance is ‘You’re coming to Orpheus and Eurydice’s wedding.'”
The word “multidisciplinary” came up a few times in our conversation. “We incorporate dance and song. We think this will appeal to an audience who aren’t as “Developing these video chapters really sprang out of [our attempt to give Eurydice a voice]. We get to find out more about who she was. If [the audience] watches them, it’s great. It gives them a chance to already know the characters. We included highlights in the beginning of the show, you won’t be penalized for not seeing them first.”
About their time in Columbus, Dugdale said, “I’m really impressed by the diversity of stuff going on. Theater I’ve seen downtown, the Wexner Center, even the Columbus Art Museum. There’s an interesting constellation of things. And the out-of-town actors are having a really good time. I want to see the reaction, but we will start working on the next piece in August and hope to present it here.”
Watch the first video installment below. The rest can be viewed at the tickets link.
Orpheus and Eurydice has shows at 7:30 p.m. January 15 through January 18. For tickets and more info, visit thetriptheater.net/