Video Work | Photo/Installations | Documentary Projects

Making a myth modern
With 'Orpheus X,' ART team takes new look at legend of love and loss
The Boston Globe

By Louise Kennedy, Globe Staff | March 19, 2006

"The Orpheus of classical myth descended into Hades to rescue his beloved Eurydice, then lost her forever by disobeying the gods' command not to look back as he led her, singing, up to life. The Orpheus of the American
Repertory Theatre's new work ''Orpheus X," which starts previews Saturday at the Zero Arrow Theatre, follows a similar path -- except in this version Eurydice is not the hero's love, but a total stranger...

...this music-theater production is a collaboration between the ART's artistic director, Robert Woodruff, and the composer, writer, and performer Rinde Eckert. A new element this time around comes from a third
collaborator, the video artist Denise Marika, who is designing projections of wintry landscapes, demolition sites, and other evocative scenes for the rusted metal surfaces of David Zinn's set....

...They also started talking with Marika. Her video ''Battle," with images of a sparring, naked couple projected onto an Ibeam, creates the illusion of watching a mysterious conflict through a hidden aperture, and Woodruff thought such images could work well in their evolving composition.

''The collaboration has been the most interesting part," Marika says by phone. ''And also to be able to work on something that wasn't set -- to be able to sit and talk about the story." So they sat and talked, and at some point, someone mentioned the legendary hero -- though it's not clear who named him first....

Because of the extensive use of Marika's video projections, Woodruff says he won't really know how all the elements will come together until Tuesday, when the cast moves from its rehearsal room in the basement of Zero Church Street to the performance space at Zero Arrow.

''That's going to change the story," he says. It's already changed many times over. Marika, for example, pushed to make Eurydice a more active character than the (almost) rescued victim of myth.

''I think it's really important that she is an active agent," Marika says. ''They're both artists, and she's driven to her work. She's present all the time, haunting his space."

So now Marika's videos will haunt the space of Zero Arrow...

...The collaboration ''went back and forth early on," Marika explains, ''and then Rinde went off and did his thing, and I went off and did mine. Now we're coming back together to jostle it all back into place.""

Louise Kennedy can be reached at

© Copyright 2006 The Boston Globe