Recovering Eurydice--A Healing Story
I am currently creating a full-length performance piece, entitled "Recovering Eurydice," that explores and describes my (in-progress) recovery from a violent car wreck, through the lens of myth, music, storytelling, shadow play and movement. In the original Greek myth, Eurydice abruptly descends into the Underworld after being bitten by a viper and must await rescue. I will reimagine her tale as one where Eurydice learns an essential truth: that she must rescue herself.
There exists an aggressive and damaging narrative that traumatic experiences ought to be overcome and then forgotten. In my experience, recovery is a chaotic, disjointed and extremely slow process. "Recovering Eurydice" is my disordered healing story and I am well enough to tell it now. I believe it will be valuable to others who may be taking their first tentative steps towards recovery.
I have been a working musician and songwriter since 1998. Over the years, I have expanded my practice from creating songs to developing large scale performance works that move my songs and stories into additional modes of expression, such as theater, puppetry, visual arts and movement. In 2013, I was struck by a criminally intoxicated driver during a tour in Texas. I was physically and psychologically traumatized by this event. At the beginning of my recovery, I had no idea the amount of patience, forgiveness, grief, chaos, change, exuberant joy and cleansing anger that I would feel. My arts practice has been a vital part of my physical recovery and existential recovery from my diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.) I have begun to see the event as folded into my creativity, as my creativity then fosters my healing in an amazing feedback loop. I have created artifacts, including those in my Work Samples: songs, drawings, meditative movement, a podcast and even a ‘zine (a one-sheet, foldable, pocket-sized, DIY magazine)--a documentation my progress.
Through the persona of Eurydice, I will describe my own Underworld and my passage through and out of it. Greek mythology offers a structure for this project. There are five rivers in the Underworld, each representing phases of my recovery. The rivers are: Phlegethon (guilt and shame), Styx (anger), Acheron (pain), Cocytus (sadness), Lethe (forgetting). They are told out of order:
Chapter 2: Tornado (Eurydice experiences a chaotic series of events, directly following her trauma)
Chapter 5: Exit (Eurydice is in recovery and in the light of hope and learning, leaves the Underworld)
Chapter 1: Oobleeyet (Eurydice is traumatized)
Chapter 4: Shadow (Eurydice contemplates an early and unnatural exit)
Chapter 3: Hamamatsu (Eurydice finds grace and gratitude in grief)
I believe that my area of expertise is to gather people into a sacred and empathic space for a period of time, where listening to music and stories is the focus of everyone’s attention. I believe this is a radical act in today’s culture. I think it’s important to acknowledge that listening to and viewing live performance art is a way to reconnect us to experiences, emotions and are a naturally community-building event. When we spend time together in rooms, hearing and telling stories, we become closer. (I’ve also explicitly said to audiences: “You aren’t shopping or engaging with your phone right now. This is a radical act because we are actively maintaining your autonomy over your own attention.”)
My next steps will be to find focused time to structure the narrative, continue to write songs centered around the project, and to find a director. I believe that my public performances will play out the aforementioned “feedback loop,” albeit one between myself and the audience. Performing will be healing for me to remember and replay through my recovery; it will be healing for members of the audience who may resonate with the story I am telling. "Recovering Eurydice" is an expression of my in-progress recovery and is important to me--every day that I continue it, I am rescuing myself.