‘She’s taken away the predictable’ In her latest works, playwright Ruhl continues to surprise and enchant
Sarah Ruhl, the 35-year-old playwright who has already scored a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant’’ and a Pulitzer Prize finalist spot, is musing over her tendency to focus on what’s usually “the second string character’’ in a play and thrust him or her to the front of the stage.
This is an interesting interview. Thanks for sharing.
However, she disappoints and blunders in her defense of her work’s critics. She basically says that anyone who doesn’t explore their character’s psychology in the way that she does is wrong. She doesn’t seem able to comprehend that irrational behavior and psychological realism are not mutually exclusive, but rather integral to each other. After all, we all behave irrationally at different times for different reasons, and that is psychological realism. In making her statements, she essentially throws many of the greatest works of drama onto the scrap heap.
While on the subject of Sarah Ruhl, did anyone read her contribution to the “Master Class” collection in the latest edition of The Dramatist? I could barely get through it. What was she thinking? I found it neither interesting, insightful, useful, helpful or illuminating. I thought it was pretentious, self-indulgent, and frankly juvenile in its overly earnest attempts to sound profound and worldly…and at times seemed to verge dangerously into stream of consciousness territory. Did she not understand the point of the project? All the others seemed to and were quite generous in what they were willing to impart. Particularly liked Marsha Norman’s essay (Ruhl must loathe ‘Night Mother!) and David Henry Hwang’s was a riot.
I thought the Master Class was wonderful. So inspiring. I agree with your assessment of Ruhl, although in her defense I did enjoy the section called "On Loss of the Curtain.
Hwang's essay hit the nail on the head for me. I had always struggled with writing about myself. I was working on a short play that was going nowhere fast. He inspired me to put myself in there, and the play works! Why am I so afraid to be vulnerable?
This quote from his essay made all the difference for me as a writer:
"The wonderful thing about writing is that you can reveal yourself, and conceal yourself -- both at the same time."
Yes, isn’t that a marvelous quote? The great thing is, you can put as much of yourself into your plays as you like, but no one but you will ever know which contributions were donor organs (as it were) and which were borrowed.