100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater by Sarah Ruhl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You MUST read this book. If you are an actor, playwright, dramaturg, technician, director, producer, stage manager, and/or lover of theatre/storytelling of any kind, you need to allow Sarah Ruhl's brilliant essays into your life. There are only a hundred of them (with the longest being maybe three pages); you'd do well to find the time.
Ruhl's wit and wisdom are apparent in the very title, and they carry through her offerings. One of this book's best qualities is that these are a hundred essays she "doesn't have time to write" -- meaning, none of them are too long, and Ruhl isn't necessarily digging for truth or trying to unlock the earth's great mysteries. She asks a lot of questions, but does not force any answers. Ruhl tells some wonderful, touching, funny stories (some of which may or may not have brought me to tears whilst on the treadmill at the gym), but she's not didactic. She'll make you stop and think about storytelling and theatre and drama and communities and our need for play and social interaction. But she'll never make you feel like she's demanding that you think about these things.
I didn't necessarily agree with all of the points she brought up (her bit on subtext in dialogue, in particular, seemed counter to everything I've learned), but I appreciated the opportunity to see another viewpoint and to maybe -- just maybe -- approach some of my own work differently.
I borrowed this book from the library, but that didn't stop me from highlighting a passage in nearly every essay, sometimes two! (On my Kindle, people, don't freak out.) I'm still going to have to buy it so I can go back and read those gems whenever I like.
Like I said, you MUST READ THIS BOOK. This book is a necessary tool of the craft, right up there with Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. The two shall be bosom companions on my bookshelf.
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