Sarah Ruhl: Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship

Thursday September 20: 7:00PM 8:00PM

Buy a copy of Letters from Max or a $15 gift card in-store at the event to attend. This event will take place in the Rare Book Room, located on the 3rd floor of the Strand and accessible via the stairs or elevator next door at 826 Broadway.

In 2012, Sarah Ruhl was a distinguished author and playwright, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Max Ritvo, a student in her playwriting class at Yale University, was an exuberant, opinionated, and highly gifted poet. He was also in remission from pediatric cancer.

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 correspondence, 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.

Join us in the Rare Book Room as Sarah shares their story with award-winning actor Mary-Louise Parker.

Sarah Ruhl’s plays include In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee), The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize finalist, winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); Passion Play, a cycle; Dead Man’s Cell Phone (winner of the Helen Hayes Award); and, most recently, Stage Kiss and Dear Elizabeth. She has been the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award, the Whiting Writers’ Award, and the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a midcareer playwright. Her collection of essays 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2014. She is currently on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Mary-Louise Parker is an award-winning actor. She is known for her work on Showtime’s Weeds, Mike Nichols’ Angels in America, and The West Wing and in TV movie The Robber Bride. She recently starred in the miniseries When We Rise, Mr. Mercedes, and Billions. Other television credits include Sugartime, Christmas in Conway, Saint Maybe, A Place for Annie, Vinegar Hill, Miracle Run, and many others. She has appeared in several films including The Assassination of Jesse James, Saved!, Behaving Badly, Romance & Cigarettes, Fried Green Tomatoes, Bullets Over Broadway, and many more. Parker has originated multiple roles, including in Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Mary-Louise was an on-staff contributer at Esquire magazine for over a decade, and has written for The New York Times, O magazine, Bullett, Bust, The Riveter, In Style, Hemispheres, and others. She has also written a number of books.