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In Conversation with Julia Krauss of “Orpheus and Eurydice”

by Bailey Green

The tale has been told for centuries in many ways but in basic terms the story of Orpheus and Eurydice goes something like this: Eurydice and Orpheus fall in love. One day Eurydice enters the forest and is bitten by a snake. She succumbs to poison and dies. Orpheus enters the Underworld to find his love and with his beautiful singing, charms Hades. Hades permits Orpheus to lead Eurydice out of the underworld on one condition – that Orpheus must not look back at her. Not once. But as they walk, Orpheus cannot contain his fear. He looks back and Eurydice is lost to him forever.

Four years ago, co-directors Julia Krauss and Nicholas Walsh were living in Kitchener. After seeing a version of Orpheus and Eurydice at Ghost River Theatre in Calgary, they were intrigued by the imagery of this myth. Walsh at the time was running a youth company, and so Krauss and Walsh decided to work with teens using the myth as a jumping off point. What emerged was a story of youth and first love, pain and loss.

The piece toured for two years to high schools in Southern Ontario. “Last year, when we moved to Toronto,” Krauss says, “we wondered how and if the show would change if we worked with adult performers on it. Once you’re older, there’s a different kind of life experience.” Krauss and Walsh assembled a collective of twenty performers—young professionals who have finished their education in dance, theatre or physical theatre. “We were intrigued by what breaks a relationship apart, what will break that deal between two people,” Krauss says. “And the bodies are older, so they tell a different story.”

Walsh and Krauss are partners in life and in theatre. “We see ourselves as context keepers, the people who put the ends together,” Krauss says of their work in devised theatre. “We’re interested in collective collaboration work that shows the final product. Everyone is passionate about it, and that shows in the final project.” Walsh, a drummer with a love for basketball, has a great sense of organization on stage and a strong awareness of sound and music. Krauss describes herself as a visual person, finding imagery in bodies and their shapes. “We balance each other out in that regard,” Krauss says of Walsh. “When we first did the piece, it was a celebration of our partnership. And so it’s been really lovely to revisit it. Being in a committed relationship is not always roses and sunshine, which we can explore with an older cast because they have had similar experience.”

Julia Krauss was born and raised in Germany and left when she was 19. Two years later she came to Canada and discovered that her accent created barriers for her to get involved with theatre. “I felt reminded that I am different,” Krauss said, “and it became something I was aware of because of casting directors. But when I worked with Majdi Bou-Matar at the MT space, he is all about celebrating cultural background. The work [we were doing] was created through improv and for the first time I felt free. That was my personal entry to devised work. Suddenly I fit in and was recognized for what Majdi called my ‘German expressionism’.”

Krauss feels grateful and inspired to work with a large ensemble of courageous and open artists. “One of my mentors when I first went into devised work told me why would you rely on your own brain when you have twenty to twenty-five people in the room?” Krauss remembers. “Everyone has a voice and story, and we, as directors, keep the bigger picture in mind […] but I love the rehearsal process. It’s a beautiful thing to watch people share and offer something really vulnerable.” Krauss hopes the piece asks audiences to consider what it takes to stay in a “functioning, fluid human relationship with another person,” and consider what may hold us back from truly embracing another person.

Orpheus and Eurydice

O&E-10_10_10 ad (1)

Presented by Theatre TOnight

performed by
/ rhiannon bronnimann
/ cheryl chan
/ roberto ercoli
/ mateo galindo torres
/ vivek hariharan
/ marion henkelmann
/ julia hussey
/ sarah ignaczewski
/ mamito kukwikila
/ diana luong
/ brittany miranda
/ damian norman
/ brian postalian
/ amanda pye
/ hugh ritchie
/ shakeil rollock
/ kyle shields
/ dylan shumka-white
/ elizabeth stuart-morris
/ kathia wittenborn

directed by
/ julia krauss
/ nicholas walsh”

“two people meet.
they fall in love. and it is thrilling. it is soft.
but it is also consuming and exhausting.

orpheus & eurydice
is an invitation to reflect on past and current relationships,
to wonder what could have been,
and to embrace what is now.

through the context of the myth, it presents
an emotionally raw and
physically captivating
exploration of our desire
for connection.

The Berkeley Street Rehearsal Hall, 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto

March 16 – 20, 2016
Wed Mar 16, 9pm
Thurs Mar 17, 9pm
Fri Mar 18, 9pm
Sat Mar 19, 8pm
Sun Mar 20, 8pm

20 adult / $15 student, senior, or artsworker

For more information, visit their website here. 



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