This play arose out of work Nick Philippou and I did in 1994 on Euripides' Ion. I was interested in discovering whether
ancient myth, and the formal and ironical strategies of ancient drama, could be used to tell a story with modem
psychological resonance, about the nature of God and what it feels like to have faith and then to lose it. Nick and I
discussed this at some length, and in 1996 Actors Touring Company commissioned me to write the play.
The story of Orpheus is one of the most resonant of all Greek myths. A musician gifted with all but magic powers tries to
use them to rescue his beloved from death, and fails not because his art deserts him but because of human nature:
unable to resist looking back to make sure that she is following him to die world of life, he breaks God's prohibition and
loses her forever. There have been thousands of treatments of die story, in fine art, music and literature - and most
concentrate on Orpheus' attempt to rescue Eurydike, and on the harrowing of Hell. I was interested in other things: the
way his art affected both him personally and his relationships with God and with mortals, his reaction when first God and
then his art deserted him, the attitudes and activities of others in the story.
In 1996, soon after the ATC commission, Nick Philippou and I were offered the chance to develop the play, in workshops
spread over a year, with ARTSLAB of Dublin. This gave me the opportunity to explore the lyrical and physical style of the
project, and to test ideas on the rehearsal-room floor. For each workshop I prepared sections of text, revising and
shaping them in the light of experience. The script was completed in May 1997, and ARTSLAB performed the results of
their workshops at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin, in June that year.