Sarah Ruhl’s collection — 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time To Write — has one of the longest subtitles I have come across in some time: On Umbrellas, and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms Children and Theater. And the length of that subtitle made me laugh before even opening to the first essay (in which her children interrupt her essay writing and with that, I was laughing again and, as a parent who writes, hooked).
I suppose that maybe I should have been familiar with Ruhl’s name as a modern playwright but, eh, I am not. Theater is rather unfamiliar terrain for me. I think that unfamiliarity may have played to my advantage, though, as Ruhl’s masterful short essays here bring us deep into the backstage of theater and production, and into motherhood, and into noticing with a childhood wonder at the world’s twists and turns.
I suspect that playwrights naturally observe at the world through a different angled lens, noticing human interactions and the way the unfolding of our days might be framed by curtains and lights and the relationship of audience/observer to actor/participant. Yes, this is all metaphor, and Ruhl is careful in how she constructs these short essays, using metaphor when needed but also, by being a careful observer of the creative spirit.
She writes of theater, but the essays are really about living a full and curious life. I’m sure I won’t be the first review to say that I was glad she found the time to write the essays she didn’t have time to write, and that she shared her often crowded space with us, if only briefly.
Peace (short but sweet),