By Tara Bennett
Twenty-year-old Erin Sheets couldn’t be giddier. As a junior performance major, she was given the rare opportunity to direct a show for the LSU Department of Theatre’s lab season. She selected Eurydice, by Sarah Ruhl – a play that reimagines the classic myth of Orpheus through the eyes of its heroine, who died on her wedding day and journeys to the Underworld, where she is reunited with her father. Sheets took time to talk about her experience directing for the first time, and why the show is close to her heart.
DIG: Since it’s your first time directing, what inspired you to pursue this?
Erin Sheets: Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, which is the show I’m directing, was a show that we read in script analysis as a theatre performance concentration. At here LSU, we are required to take a text analysis class where we read almost two plays plus every single week. So we get a lot of exposure to different kinds of work. It was just a play that we read in class that really impacted me. I’m only a junior and usually directing for the lab season is pretty much exclusively reserved for seniors because it’s such a big task for someone to take on, but that piece really spoke to me on a personal level and when you find something like that that strikes you so much I really wanted to work on it. Once they sent that email to purpose shows for the lab season, I said well, why not?
DIG: That is really cool.
Sheets: I was so happy to be picked. I almost chickened out because directing is such a huge feat. I was really worried, but it’s one of those things where you don’t know unless you try.
DIG: You mentioned Eurydice spoke to you. Can you elaborate on that?
Sheets: It’s a very personal thing, but I’m totally comfortable with sharing it. So Sarah Ruhl wrote the play, and while it’s kind of based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, she kind of uses the myth as a backdrop to tell her own story. Sarah Ruhl’s father died when she was very young, and it was very hard for her to deal with and she wrote this play as a way to continue having a conversation with her father. The relationship between Eurydice and her father is really strong within the text of the play. I lost my father when I was 18 years old in high school, and so that kind of really spoke to me, that relationship and being so young and losing a parent, that devastation. That’s one of the reasons why I think it was so impactful to me. I felt like I identified with Sarah Ruhl and what she was trying to say in the script.
DIG: That is really beautiful.
Sheets: Thank you. It’s sad, and it hurts, but it’s been such a long time and I think working through this show is kind of like a good healing process, which is what all art is.
DIG: How does the play differ from the myth?
Sheets: It’s kind of from the perspective of the heroine. There’s a lot of new takes on ideas like the Underworld. In Sarah Ruhl’s play, she is specific that she doesn’t want the Underworld to be perceived as fiery pits of hell, or the lord of the Underworld, she doesn’t want him depicted as malicious, horrific devil figure. The Underworld is kind of portrayed as this gentle, cold place where your memories are washed away and you live in an infinite void of forgetfulness.
DIG: What can you tell me about your cast and crew?
Sheets: I feel so blessed this being my first directing experience. I expected to come crashing out the gate. I expected all these horrible things to go wrong, but everyone has been so supportive. The team of designers and actors that we have are so hands on, and they’ve really taken the show as their own.
DIG: What would you like to say to potential audience members?
Sheets: I think the most universal thing people would get out of coming to the show is just that feeling of lost that everyone has felt in their life and trying to deal with it and how memory and things like that may be painful and hard to deal with, they’re what makes us who we are as people and I think that this show really exemplifies what makes us human.
Eurydice runs from Oct. 28 to Nov. 2 with performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Studio Theatre, located in the Music and Dramatic Arts Building on LSU campus. Tickets are $10.00 and can only be purchased at the door. For tickets or more information, contact LSU Department of Theatre at 225-578-4174 or visit www.theatre.lsu.edu.