Sarah Ruhl's Woolfian Essay-Play vs. the Play of Ideas: Let's Talk about How to Transcend a Happy Marriage
- Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism
- The University of Kansas, Department of Theatre and Dance
- Volume 34, Number 1, Fall 2019
- pp. 29-44
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- Additional Information
Sarah Ruhl's How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, an inquisitive comedy about polyamory, communion, and our animal nature, was criticized for its plot-light, meandering form that juggled ideas without bringing them to conclusion. In this article I argue that Ruhl has created an innovative hybrid form-a Woolfian "essay-play"-in which plot and argument are secondary to wandering, wondering, and idea-inebriated pleasure. In contrast to the traditional play of ideas, the essay-play invites the audience into the process of thinking rather than presenting them with finished thoughts; its essayistic aesthetic is also an ethic, one that leaves breathing room for the audience.