The announcement of that award stated: “Sarah Ruhl, 32, playwright, New York City

A Review by Jon York

Sarah Ruhl is clearly a gifted playwright who tackles contemporary themes with a great ability to create in, she received a MacArthur Fellowship (nicknamed the Genius Grant) worth half a million dollars. Playwright creating vivid and adventurous theatrical works that poignantly juxtapose the mundane aspects of daily life with mythic themes of love and war.”

Note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Jon York

Precocious as a child, she exhibited a flair for the theater at a very early age. When she was only 5, her mother, Kathy Kehoe Ruhl, an actress in Chicago and professor of English at the University of Illinois, Chicago, parked her at the theater while she rehearsed, and the ever-ambitious Sarah would take notes on the production. “I would think they hadn’t gotten it quite right,” Ms. Ruhl remembered.

All of her major plays have been produced by professional theater companies in the Boston area within the last few years. Ruhl gained widespread recognition for her play The Clean House, a poignant tale in which the characters are challenged to find joy in spite of death. It won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2004 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005.

Her play Eurydice, produced off-Broadway at New York’s Second Stage Theatre in , centers around the use and understanding of language. It is Ruhl’s own version of the classic Eurydice and Orpheus tale, and portrays an Alice and Wonderland type of nether world complete with talking stones and a Lord of the Underworld who can be seen riding a red tricycle. The play dissects relationships, love, communication, and the permeability between the world of the living and the world of the dead, in a quest to discover where true meaning lies in life and thereafter.

Dead Man’s Cell Phone premiered in New York City at Playwrights Horizons in 2008, exploring technology and the disconnect people are experiencing in the digital age. “Cell phones, iPods, wireless computers will change people in ways we don’t even understand,” Ruhl stated. “We’re less connected to the present. No one is where they are. There’s absolutely no reason to talk to a stranger anymore-you connect to people you already know. But how well do you know them? Because you never see them-you just talk to them. I find that terrifying.” Ruhl made her Broadway debut with In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), which opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre in Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for the 2010 Tony Award for Best Play, Best Featured Actress, and Best Costume. The play serves as a history of the vibrator, which was once used as a treatment for women diagnosed with hysteria.

Ruhl explains her nonlinear realism, which is full of surprises and mysteries but lacking exposition and psychology, by stating “I try to interpret how people subjectively experience life. Everyone has a great, horrible opera inside him. I feel that my plays, in a way, are very old-fashioned. They’re pre-Freudian in the sense that the Greeks and Shakespeare worked with similar assumptions. Catharsis isn’t a wound being excavated from childhood.”

At first she had wanted to be a poet. Then, in 1996, as an undergraduate at Brown, Ms. Ruhl took a playwriting class with Paula Vogel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for How I Learned to Drive. She planned to write a thesis on actresses in 19th-century http://www.hookupdate.net/escort-index/springfield-2 literature and asked Ms. Vogel to oversee her thesis. “She was very sneaky,” Ms. Ruhl said. “She refused and said if I wanted her to be my adviser, I would have to write a play instead.”

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