An Evening of Theater with that
Old Attic Flair
by Timothy Ball, '01
In a break from the hectic schedule of Fall finals, the students from Professor Curley’s CL222 “Greek Drama” performed their original tragedy Orpheus Deceived. This performance was the culmination of a semester-long project in which the seven students collaborated to write a tragedy in the style of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. The play, which ran approximately 900 lines long, recounts the love of Orpheus and the fair Eurydice, and how her untimely death sends Orpheus on a mission to Hades to bring her back among the living. In a unique spin on the story devised by the seven playwrights, Aristeus—Orpheus’ half brother—sends the poisonous snake to kill Eurydice when she spurns his affection, and in an exciting agon between Aristeus and Orpheus’ mother Calliope he convinces Orpheus to look behind him, thus banishing Eurydice to the underworld forever.
The performance, which took place in the Dana Science Atrium, was well attended by students and faculty. The CL222 students, in addition to creating the play, also performed the roles. Kirk Cassels (’02) played Orpheus to di Caprio-like perfection; Jamie Garfield (’00) shone as both ill-fated Eurydice and the hapless Nurse; Maggie Arndt (’99) and Timothy Ball (’01) opposed each other with venom as Calliope and Aristeus; and the chorus of Thracian women—Etta Yuki (’99), Bob Horsman (’01, who also doubled as Apollo) and Ross James (’01)—observed all. Professor Curley acted as advisor and guided the process to completion.
Orpheus Deceived was submitted to and accepted for the Spring semester Academic Festival. The play will be performed once again at the end of April, this time as dinner theater in the Spa. Supplementing the Chorus this time around will be Classics majors Doug Gilmour (’00), Emily Levy (’99), and Mark Mucha (’00).
Below is a selection from Orpheus Deceived, a speech delivered by Orpheus in which he debates whether to trust in the gods (as his mother Calliope advises), or to turn around to see if Eurydice is following him (for which Aristeus has craftily argued):
Orpheus: Ah, which way to turn?
My mother, fondest Calliope, it is your advice
That I shall take. You are divine, and besides
You have shown me your love again and again.
There; I shall wait, my back to Hades, for the
Touch of Eurydice's slender hand upon
It gnaws my vitals, chews upon my heart
And eats away my brain! This waiting
Is insufferable! Better to be a Sisyphus or
Wretched Tantalus than Orpheus!
Aristeus, could what you say be true?
Your logic is unimpeachable. So often have
The bards sung of the misdeeds and coiled
Words of the gods….
Hades cannot have any love for me, I
Entered his kingdom without leave. I would
Kill a man who had the gall to enter gold-veined
Thrace and put demands before me….
I can hear his laughter now, in fact. He
Relishes my anguish! You, my dear brother,
Would not steer me wrong, you like me
Know both the limits and the heights
Of love. Ah me! I can stand it no longer!
Eurydice, Eurydice! Come to my arms!