It's been a surprisingly playwright-filled weekend for a weekend in which I saw zero plays! This is from Sarah Ruhl's book 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write:
It often seems to me that our Western theaters, the big ones, in terms of design, do not necessarily resemble brightly lit commodes but do resemble airports. (Some of them are currently named after airlines.) Sometimes it seems to me that the whole world is becoming an airport, with more and more glass, with fewer smells to distinguish one place from another, and with nowhere quiet to sit in the dark, or sleep. And yet, of course, the theater is one of the few places left in the bright and noisy world where we sit in the quiet dark together, to be awake.
So, back to the abstract question: is playwriting teachable? Of course it's not teachable. And of course it is teachable. It is as teachable as any other art form, in which we are dependent on a shared history and on our teachers for a sense of form, inspiration, and example; but we are dependent on ourselves alone for our subject matter, our private discipline, our wild fancies, our dreams. The question of whether playwriting is teachable begets other questions, like: is devotion teachable? Is listening teachable? Is a love of art and a willingness to give your life over to art teachable? I believe that these things are teachable mostly by example, and in great silences. There is the wondrous noise of the classroom, the content, the liveliness of the teachings themselves, the exchange of knowledge, and then there is the great silence of relation. Of watching how great people live. And of their silently communicating, "You, too, with your midwestern reticence, can go out into the great world and write. And when we fail, we'll have some bourbon, and we'll laugh." Teaching is unbounded by the classroom. Just as love is unbounded by time.
I brought my six-year-old daughter, Anna, to my rehearsals of Melancholy Play (in which a woman turns into an almond). I wanted to see if she got bored. "Oh no," she said. "It's the best show I've seen in years."