Since its founding in 1983, the Warren Baird English Symposium at Kingswood Oxford has maintained a steady stream of outstanding authors, poets, and playwrights, with the likes of Richard Wilbur, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jonathan Safran Foer and, just last year, Colson Whitehead, gracing the Roberts Theater stage. This year’s Symposium author, playwright Sarah Ruhl, is no less illustrious. A two time Pulitzer Prize finalist for her plays, “The Clean House” and “In The Next Room,” the latter of which was also nominated for a Tony, and winner of the 2006 MacArthur Fellowship, Ms. Ruhl undoubtedly brings with her an impressive resume. She has also written a contemporary adaptation of the Greek tragedy “Eurydice.” In addition to these honors, Mrs. Ruhl has co-written “Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship,” a series of letters written between herself and Max Ritvo, a student of hers at Yale University who battled and ultimately passed away from Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of soft tissue cancer.
Next year’s Symposium teacher, Michelle Schloss, has been a fan of Ms. Ruhl’s work since college. “It was in a college theater class that I first encountered her work,” she said. “After I first saw her play ‘Eurydice,’ I was enamored and went on a bit of a kick.” Ms. Schloss also called attention to the beauty of Mrs. Ruhl’s work. “She takes ancient and universal ideas and sticks them in very normal situations,” Ms. Schloss said. As Ms. Ruhl is primarily a playwright, Ms. Schloss hopes to integrate the KO theater department into the Symposium program. Ms. Schloss said that the theater department even plans on putting on one of Ms. Ruhl’s plays for the fall play. Those Form Six students who take Symposium next year will focus exclusively on Ms. Ruhl’s work, reading both her plays and essays. Additionally, the students will visit all other English classes throughout the Middle School and Upper School to each a class about Ms. Ruhl and her work. We look forward to Ms. Ruhl’s visit next winter and can’t wait to welcome her into the prestigious ranks of Baird Symposium guests.