100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater


100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater Essays
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Product Description

"One hundred incisive, idiosyncratic essays on life and theater from a major American playwright "Don't send your characters to reform school!" pleads Sarah Ruhl in one of her essays. With titles as varied as "On Lice" to "On Sleeping in Theaters" and "Motherhood and Stools (The Furniture Kind)," these essays are artful meditations on life in the arts and joyous jumbles of observations on everything in between. The pieces combine admonition, celebration, inquiry, jokes, assignments, entreaties, prayers,and advice: honest reflections distilled from years of working in the theater. They offer candid accounts of what it is like to be a mother and an artist, along with descriptions of how Ruhl's children's dreams, jokes, and songs work themselves into her writing. 100 Essays is not just a book about the theater. It is a map of a very particular artistic sensibility and a guide for anyone who has chosen an artist's life"--

Editorial Reviews

An acclaimed playwright reflects on her art and craft.MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer nominee Ruhl (Drama/Yale Univ.) is a busy mother of three whose work is often interrupted by her children’s needs—for food, say, or “a fake knife to cut…fake fruit.” Instead of writing “something totalizing, something grand,” she has collected some thoughts on theater: writing plays, acting, watching productions and dealing with “Other People: Directors, Designers, Dramaturgs, and Children.” Though she claims that she knows “next to nothing,” she notes that theater is not “about knowing, or putting forward a thesis,” but about “making knowledge” from the prismatic perspectives of a few characters. Ruhl’s essays, generally a page or two, sometimes are much briefer. In “An essay in praise of smallness,” she writes, simply, “I admire minimalism.” In an essay entitled “Is there an objective standard of taste?” she responds, “No.” Several essays consider the power of language. “In the world of imaginary things, speech acts are everywhere,” she writes. “One declares the imaginary world into being.” For Ruhl, theater depends on physicality rather than psychological analysis. Future playwrights, she maintains, would do well to study juggling rather than literary theory. “Words like ‘liminal’ and words like ‘unpack’ should go in essays about theater and get banished from rehearsal rooms,” she writes. “Actors used to be akin to prostitutes in the public mind. Now we are akin to professors.” The author laments the lack of freedom for a playwright to fail, caused in part by subscription audiences who may “feel that by subscribing, they have been inoculated against failure” and in part by the cost of mounting plays. She also laments the “whitewashed” stage: Casts are predominantly white, unless a playwright specifically calls for a nonwhite actor in a particular role.Ruhl’s musings may remind readers of Lydia Davis’ aphoristic short stories: fresh, piquant and slyly irreverent. Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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