Imagine waking up one morning to the realization that there’s a sudden mismatch between your exterior and interior landscapes. Your face no longer droops with a frown when you’re angry, or brightens with a smile when you’re delighted. You’ve lost your innate freedom of expression.
If you’re playwright Sarah Ruhl, you first ignore the disconnect because you’re caught up in the chaos of newborn twins and a production about to open on Broadway. Then, for ten years, you try everything from physical therapy and neurosurgery to acupuncture and alternative medicine’s Alexander Technique — although all the experts have told you that there’s no effective treatment for what you have: Bell’s palsy.
The best you can do is to adjust — and in Smile, Ruhl meditates on her efforts to adapt, even as her internal dialogue undermines her. Okay, my face is a wreck but my kids are fine, she consoles herself. But a niggling fear that her kids will never understand the depth of her love without the corresponding visage keeps popping up. Going out might make me want to smile, she prodded herself. But the very thought of searching for her own smile was too depressing to allow her to move.
Ms. Ruhl will join us to discuss loss, reconciliation and the lessons of adversity.
An award-winning playwright, author, essayist and professor at Yale, Sarah Ruhl has won the Pen American Award, the Helen Hayes Award and twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her plays have been produced on Broadway, Off-Broadway and at Lincoln Center as well as across the country.
Women on the Move: A Virtual Series
Temple Emanu-El’s Stettenheim Library is proud to present its fourth edition of Women on the Move, a series that welcomes female authors to discuss their latest work probing the intricacies of our lives.
The series will be moderated by Zibby Owens, writer and creator of the popular podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, one of O: The Oprah Magazine’s favorite book podcasts; journalist Jordana Horn, co-host of the Call Your Mother podcast and contributing editor at Kveller; and Marjorie Shuster, Coordinator of Literary Events at Temple Emanu-El.
Free (with option to buy the books)
Sponsored by The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation Authors’ Series, honoring Theodore and Caroline Newhouse and Susan Newhouse