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Reaching Out with Eurydice: Myth and Voice Initiative

Reaching Out with Eurydice: Myth and Voice Initiative

Find your voice with classical myth

Dr Efi Spentzou and Royal Holloway students have collaborated in creating a project that aims to provide a safe space for engagement with feelings, emotions, obstacles and solutions surrounding the use of voice and personal expression in moments of crisis, perhaps even trauma. The focus is on school children and other youth groups.

The project works through a series of experiential workshops based on selected characters and story lines from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. These provide a safe ‘othered’ environment in which young people can grapple with contemporary dilemmas and challenges. The mythological setting provides an emotional distance and similar cover is afforded by the role-play elements in the reimagining of the ancient stories. 

The first such workshop focuses on the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus, as a story of muted self-expression and the strains behind young love. This is now up being offered online to interested school groups. More workshops are in preparation: one is based on Arachne and plays out the contemporary reception (in social media and elsewhere) of a powerful (female) voice. Another is based on the myth of Persephone and attempts to engage with gendered and generational conflict within relationships (and marriages). A fourth one engages with Io and deals with issues around forced mobility and homelessness. A last one engages with the myth of Phaethon and invites the participants to reflect on and deal with anxieties related to ecological and climate emergency. 

A central aspect of the Myth and Voice Initiative is its inclusionary nature and the multiplicity of creators and authors. Participants are enabled to create as they offer their experience and insight and, in turn, learn as they teach. The Eurydice workshop was a joint effort of Dr Spentzou and a group of third-year undergraduate students. Together, they designed it in a series of online workshops during the 2020 national lockdown. It has been subsequently tested by a group of second-year students who have acted as participants, facilitators and designers. They have become contributors and co-designers of the Arachne and Persephone workshops. 

Both student groups involved are being supported in engagement with their old schools in offering the workshops. The school children involved are invited to produce their own versions of the myths with our departmental website as a virtual exhibition space for them. Dr Spentzou is also in discussions with small charities supporting youth affected by homelessness and mental health issues to explore the potential of offering similar workshops to the voluntary sector.

If you would like to participate in this workshop at your school (at either an in-person or an online session), please contact Dr Efi Spentzou at efi.spentzou@rhul.ac.uk.

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Dr Efi Spentzou and Classics students at a workshop that uses classical myth to help school children to find their voice.

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