Writer-director Reza Abdoh puts his unique stamp on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in "The Hip-Hop Waltz of Eurydice," premiering Thursday at Los Angeles Theatre Center.
In the original, Orpheus journeys to Hades and persuades the Lord of the Underworld to let his wife, Eurydice, go. The condition is that Orpheus mustn't look back at her as they're leaving. But he does . . . and loses her.
"What Reza's done is tell a myth about the force of faith--faith in love--in a time of repression and fear," said LATC's new dramaturg, Morgan Jenness, who came to LATC in September from New York, where she had been literary manager at the Public Theatre. "Orpheus and Eurydice have a forbidden love, and the Lord of the Underworld is a sort of fascist symbol. There are undertows of the Jesse Helms situation, the connection of love and sexuality, the fact that sex is (treated as) a bad thing."
Although the work is clearly a very personal expression for Abdoh ("Rusty Sat on a Hill," "Minimata," "Pasos en la Obscuridad"), Jenness maintains that she has fit comfortably in the process. "The text is made of music and image and movement," she said. "It's not linguistically oriented; words are only one element. Reza breaks down the intellectual expectations you have when you're just dealing with words. It's about trying to get audiences to experience the piece in a different way. You don't have to understand it to feel it."