Sarah Ruhl’s new play Scenes from Court Life, or the whipping boy and his prince, premiered Thursday at Yale Repertory’s University Theatre. The production opened the Yale Rep’s 50th anniversary season. Scenes from Court Life moves between modern day U.S. politics and English Restoration. In 17th-century Great Britain, the Stuarts—Charles I and Charles II—defend their divine rights, with the help of a whipping boy. In our own time, Jeb and George W. Bush play hardball—both politics and tennis—battling for power, as siblings and statesmen. By turns intimate and epic, Sarah Ruhl’s new play reveals the cost of dynastic privilege. Scenes from Court Life was commissioned by NYU Graduate Acting Program and Yale Repertory Theatre. Further development and production support are provided by Yale’s Binger Center for New Theatre. Scenes from Court Life is the recipient of a 2016 Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. Interrogating democracy, dynasties, and power, Ruhl draws a comparative portrait that reveals enduring truths. She said:
‘We elect a king for four years.’ So said William Seward, Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State. I found myself meditating on dynastic succession and democracy while the primary season heated up. I’m thrilled to be back at Yale Rep during a season in which our democracy seems like just as wild an experiment as our theatres.
Originally from Chicago, Ms. Ruhl received her M.F.A. from Brown University where she studied with Paula Vogel. An alum of 13P and of New Dramatists, she won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006. She was the recipient of the PEN Center Award for a mid-career playwright, the Whiting Writers award, the Feminist Press’ Forty under Forty award, and a Lilly Award.
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