“Ruhl’s zany probe of the razor-thin line between life and death delivers a fresh and humorous look at the times we live in.”—Variety
“Sarah Ruhl is deliriously imaginative and fearless in her choice of subject matter. She is an original.”—Molly Smith, artistic director, Arena Stage
An incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet café. A stranger at the next table who has had enough. And a dead man—with a lot of loose ends. So begins Dead Man’s Cell Phone, a wildly imaginative new comedy by playwright Sarah Ruhl, recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and Pulitzer Prize finalist for her play The Clean House. A work about how we memorialize the dead—and how that remembering changes us—it is the odyssey of a woman forced to confront her own assumptions about morality, redemption, and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world.
Sarah Ruhl’s plays have been produced at theaters around the country, including Lincoln Center Theater, the Goodman Theatre, Arena Stage, South Coast Repertory, Yale Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, among others, and internationally. She is the recipient of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (for The Clean House, 2004), the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award, and the Whiting Writers’ Award. The Clean House was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005. She is a member of 13P and New Dramatists.
“The Clean House is not, by any means, a traditional boy-meets-girl story. In fact disease, death, and dirt are among the subjects it addresses. This comedy is romantic, deeply so, but in the more arcane sense of the word: visionary, tinged with fantasy, extravagant in feeling, maybe a little nuts.”—The New York Times
“Touching, inventive, invigoratingly compact, and luminously liquid, Eurydice reframes the ancient myth of ill-fated love to focus not on the bereaved musician but on his dead bride—and on her struggle with love beyond the grave.”—San Francisco Chronicle
This volume is the first publication of Sarah Ruhl, “a playwright with a unique comic voice, perspective, and sense of theater” (Variety), who is fast leaving her mark on the American stage. In the award-winning Clean House—a play of uncommon romance and uncommon comedy—a maid who hates cleaning dreams about creating the perfect joke, while a doctor who treats cancer leaves his heart inside one of his patients. This volume also includes Eurydice, Ruhl’s reinvention of the tragic Greek tale of love and loss, together with a third play still to be named.
Sarah Ruhl received the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2004 for her play The Clean House, which has been produced at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia, South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC. Her play Eurydice has been produced at Madison Repertory Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
“[This] breathtakingly inventive addition to Ruhl’s singular body of work . . . has the potential to be a modern masterpiece.”–Los Angeles Times
Sarah Ruhl made her Broadway debut this fall with her latest effervescent comedy: a play about sex, intimacy, and equality, set in the 1880s, when enthusiasm for the electric light bulb gave rise to a handy new instrument to treat female hysteria. The story revolves around the medical office and home of Dr. Givings, who regularly induces “paroxysm” in his once high-strung patient Sabrina, allowing her to happily return to playing piano. Soon, Sabrina falls in love with the doctor’s assistant Annie, and also befriends his wife Catherine, who is dealing with her own neurotic misgivings about not being able to breast-feed her baby. With this new work, Ruhl once again uses playful symbolism and lyrical language as she makes seemingly effortless thematic leaps—crafting a play with tremendous critical and audience appeal, in her singular theatrical voice.
Sarah Ruhl’s plays include Dead Man’s Cell Phone, The Clean House (a Pulitzer Prize finalist), Passion Play, and Eurydice, all of which have been widely produced throughout the United States and internationally. She is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.
"In the smart, rollicking Stage Kiss . . . passion and fidelity engage in a kind of elegant pas de deux. . . . The play manages to be both wholly original and instantly recognizable . . . with its combination of hilarity and trenchancy."—The New Yorker
Award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl brings her unique mix of lyricism, sparkling humor, and fierce intelligence to her new romantic comedy, Stage Kiss. When estranged lovers He and She are thrown together as romantic leads in a long-forgotten 1930s melodrama, the line between off-stage and on-stage begins to blur. A "knockabout farce that channels Noël Coward and Michael Frayn" (Chicago Tribune), Stage Kiss is a thoughtful and clever examination of the difference between youthful lust and respectful love. Ruhl, one of America's most frequently produced playwrights, proves that a kiss is not just a kiss in this whirlwind romantic comedy, which will receive its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons in winter 2014.
Sarah Ruhl's other plays include the Pulitzer Prize finalists In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) and The Clean House, as well as Passion Play, Dead Man's Cell Phone, Demeter in the City, Eurydice, Melancholy Play, and Late: a cowboy song. She is the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a PEN/Laura Pels Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship. Her plays have premiered on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and have been produced in many theaters around the world.
“Sarah Ruhl’s bold, inventive, and ironic triptych [is] a meditation on devotion and its appropriation by the state. . . . Ruhl is an original; a storyteller with a fine mind evolving her own theatrical idiom.”—John Lahr, The New Yorker
“It’s a different kind of morality play . . . an often wondrous work . . . with [Ruhl’s] own special lyrical blend of poetry, humor and grace.”—Frank Rizzo, Variety
Passion Play is Sarah Ruhl’s “biggest, most ambitious effort yet” (The New York Times), a three-and-a-half hour intimate epic, plunging the depths of the timely intersection of politics and religion. Ruhl dramatizes a community of players rehearsing their annual staging of the Easter Passion in three different eras: 1575 northern England, just before Queen Elizabeth outlaws the ritual; 1934 Oberammergua, Bavaria, as Hitler is rising to power; and Spearfish, South Dakota, from the time of Vietnam through Reagan’s presidency. In each period, the players grapple in different ways with the transformative nature of art, and politics are never far in the background, as Queen Elizabeth, Hitler, and Reagan each appear, played by a single commanding actor.
Sarah Ruhl’s plays include Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Eurydice, and The Clean House, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work has been widely produced both throughout the country and internationally, and she is the recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.
From 1947 to 1977, Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop exchanged more than four hundred letters. Describing the writing of their poems, their travel and daily illnesses, the pyrotechnics of their romantic relationships, and the profound affection they had for each other, these missives are the most intimate record available of both poets and one of the greatest correspondences in American literature.
The playwright Sarah Ruhl fell in love with these letters and set herself an unusual challenge: to turn this thirty-year exchange into a stage play, and to bring to life the friendship of two writers who were rarely even in the same country. As innovative as it is moving, Dear Elizabeth gives voice to a conversation that lived mostly in writing, illuminating some of the finest poems of the twentieth century and the minds that produced them.
The Oldest Boy is a richly emotional journey filled with music, dance, puppetry, ritual, and laughter—Sarah Ruhl at her imaginative best. A meditation on attachment and unconditional love, the play asks us to believe in a world in which sometimes the youngest children are also the oldest and wisest teachers.
100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write is a book in which chimpanzees, Chekhov, and child care are equally at home. A vibrant, provocative examination of the possibilities of the theater, it is also a map to a very particular artistic sensibility, and an unexpected guide for anyone who has chosen an artist's life.
Over the next four years—in which Ritvo’s illness returned and his health declined, even as his productivity bloomed—the two exchanged letters that spark with urgency, humor, and the desire for connection. Reincarnation, books, the afterlife as an Amtrak quiet car, good soup: in Ruhl and Ritvo’s exchanges, all ideas are fair, nourishing game, shared and debated in a spirit of generosity and love. “We’ll always know one another forever, however long ever is,” Ritvo writes. “And that’s all I want—is to know you forever.”
Studded with poems and songs, Letters from Max is a deeply moving portrait of a friendship, and a shimmering exploration of love, art, mortality, and the afterlife.
An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production starring JoBeth Williams and Julian Sands, with narration by Chris Hatfield.
Directed by Rosalind Ayres and recorded before an audience by L.A. Theatre Works.