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Why ask why? Try some lies

THEATER / PLAYWRIGHTS ON WRITING

The simple truth behind 'Dead Man's Cell Phone' is a cavalcade of fabrications, or maybe they're true stories.

September 28, 2008|Sarah Ruhl | Special to The Times

As Mr. Jacques Joli-Coeur writes: "At the end of a long day, full of broken ladders, full of missed opportunity, it is my great joy to sit in a dark theater, and to see a play that is many things at once -- knowable and unknowable, familiar and strange, sad and happy both. Sometimes I cry a little bit and I don't know why. But this doesn't bother me. And the next day, I drive, I drive, I pick up a crazy passenger, and sometimes it is a good day for driving in this God-forsaken city, and sometimes it isn't, but I do thank the good Lord for being alive."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday, September 29, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
"Dead Man's Cell Phone": Ticket prices for "Dead Man's Cell Phone" at South Coast Repertory, accompanying an essay by playwright Sarah Ruhl in Sunday's Arts & Music section, were incorrect. They are $28 to $64, not $35 to $70.

I want to thank Mr. Joli-Coeur for offering his insights, because we as writers or artists or even as private citizens one day reach a personal chasm, a gulf that separates our own conviction that it is in fact our very uselessness that qualifies us to speak and a peculiarly American injunction to be useful and to know. Please, dear God, dear reader, allow me to know things that I do not know. Knowing things that I do not know is the only real qualification for this strangest of jobs, the scribbler for the stage. It is when we start to believe what we pretend to know about ourselves, when we, in short, begin to act as though we are experts on ourselves . . . (and this is, after all, the modern age, we are all experts of ourselves . . .) that we begin to lie. And because I love you, dear reader, most of all. You are the very last person I would ever lie to.

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Ruhl's plays include "The Clean House," "Eurydice" and "The Melancholy Play." She is a 2006 recipient of the MacArthur fellowship.

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"Dead Man's Cell Phone," South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. 7:45 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 7:45 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. Ends Oct. 12. $35-$70. (714) 708-5555.

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