Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice 'explores the big questions about my life and all our lives,' director Carl Granieri tells the Insider

Carl Granieri (Director), Lidia, Fili-Aicardi (Eurydice), Irina Tsoutsos (Dramaturgy), Matt Kirk (Composer)

 ROME -  Visiting Director Carl Granieri brings Sarah Ruhl’s reimagined telling of the myth Eurydice to the stage with the English Theatre of Rome April 30-May 14, highlighting the uniqueness of this production explaining “it couldn’t have been made anywhere else.”

 Before his arrival in the Eternal city, Granieri anticipated the differences between directing in the United States and in Rome. He explained that some of the processes are a “little different.”

“There is more time to breathe over here,” he summed up. “European theatre artists tend to get more time in the room than American theatre artists do. This comes down to the’ time is money’ business that we can’t get away from which unfortunately creeps into things it shouldn’t creep into.”


Granieri, 43, a native of New Jersey whose family originally is from Rome, is an actor, director, and theatre educator based in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he works as an Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Louisiana. He holds an MFA in Acting from Temple University and an MA in Dramaturgy from Villanova University, where he was an acting scholar. 


He took advantage of the open directing slot for the spring season at the English Theatre of Rome to put on Eurydice during his year-long sabbatical. Having met the creative director of the theatre group, Gaby Ford, through a colleague, he pitched Eurydice, the 2003 play written by Sarah Ruhl which he had been “dying to produce for a decade,” to Ford, who loved it.


“I have been attracted to Eurydice for a long time. As an artist I am interested in questions of agency and fatedness which are at the core of this piece. Eurydice is about memory, family, personal identity and control and the way in which those things are inextricably bound up with who and what we come from and the tensions among those things,” Granieri explained.


The English Theatre of Rome is “dedicated to spring-boarding artists in the Eternal City by producing full seasons of theatrical work in English.” It goes for not just the cutting-edge pieces, but a variety – from the classics to the brand new and the unknown. Granieri weighed in on the theatre’s group role.


“There is hunger for this kind of theatre in Rome,” he said.


In the traditional myth, on the night of her wedding to Orpheus, Eurydice is killed in a tragic accident and is reunited with her dead father in the underworld. Distraught with grief, Orpheus journeys to find her and to bring her back to life. However, Eurydice discovers that the price of living again can sometimes exceed the cost of staying dead. 


Granieri said that Ruhl’s Eurydice is a “contemporised” version of the traditional Greek myth. Granieri commented on the fact that in the traditional versions of Ovid and Virgil, Eurydice is “just a tool.”


Ruhl has “re-centred the myth” to focus on Eurydice’s experience after her death and she “reimagines the dynamics of the events.”


Granieri talked through his decision to direct Ruhl’s play rather than to act in it.


“The projects I want to work on as an actor are very different to the projects I want to work on as a director. In terms of acting experiences, I want to work on projects where I get to explore things which are outside of my experience.”


“As a director, I am attracted to projects which let me explore the big questions about my life and all of our lives together.” 


Commenting on his hopes for the audience’s reception of Eurydice, Granieri said “first of all, I hope the audience will enjoy themselves. The play works on lots of levels - it’s beautiful, moving, funny … It keeps some of the Greek forms - but the play is very open to interpretation. It raises more questions than it provides answers.”


“For the audience members who are already familiar with the myth, the play will be very surprising - Ruhl has reimagined it completely. I think the richness of Ruhl’s writing will be surprising - how it contains so much at once and how all the different aspects illuminate one another.”


Eurydice’s cast includes actors from across the world including Italy, the UK and the U.S. Granieri highlighted the special strengths of having an international cast saying “Ruhl uses cultural references in her writing that make sense to Americans and do not make immediate sense to those who are not... The cast are bringing insights to the way in which their characters work that exist outside of American culture. We couldn’t make this version of the production anywhere else as it is driven by the cast’s collective consciousness and different cultural experiences which gives the play a new framing.”


Talking about the musicality of the play Granieri pointed out the original sound composition of Eurydice, written by composer Matt Kirk.


“Music, especially in Orpheus’ case, features prominently.”


The play is running at Teatro Arciliuto, an intimate venue, which Granieri highlights as intensifying the power of the play.


“There is nowhere to hide in the Arciliuto and in this play nothing is hidden."


"Eurydice is earnest and is bared to the audience from the first moment and the space echoes this essential element of the play.” 


EURYDICE April 30 - May 14 at Teatro Arciliuto, Piazza di Montevecchio, 5, 00186. The piece runs 90 minutes with no intermission. Tickets cost €15 if bought online and €17 on the day. For more information