A Successful Playwright is…







Artwork by Christian Schloe


by Cynthia Wands

A few months ago I read a wonderful account of Sarah Ruhl accepting the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award.

This was just a few weeks after the election results and I was fighting through hopelessness and fury. Not great companions – hopelessness and fury. They tend to fuel one another into that other sense:  helplessness.

But her words have stayed with me the last few weeks:

“We write to extend the light of our minds into dark hollows. We write to create and model empathy in a ragged land. We write because our minds can always be free in the face of tyranny. ”

Through this turbulent period of time in our culture, I’m challenged to find that what I’m writing is of value. My humor, my sensibility, my quirks, all seem out of sync with what is happening in our country today, this afternoon, this evening.

But, like most artists I know, I’ve always felt estranged from the mainstream culture – and so I’ll continue on this next writing project – not knowing if it really reflects this period of time we’re going through.

I did want to share one other piece of Sarah’s speech, that reflects the financial reality of today’s successful playwright:

“On the morning of the day when I heard about this award, I realized I was about to bounce a check I’d just made out to my babysitter. Walking to the bank to get her a money order, I thought, oh dear. That afternoon, on the phone, I learned of this award and wept with joy and surprise.”

Sarah Ruhl Speech