The Clean House and Other Plays
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The Clean House and Other Plays

Sarah Ruhl

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eBook - ePub

The Clean House and Other Plays

Sarah Ruhl

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About This Book

“Passionate. Show-stopping. Daringly over-the-top and impressively consistent in its delirious excess. The Clean House shines.”— New Haven Advocate

“ The Clean House is not, by any means, a traditional boy-meets-girl story. In fact disease, death, and dirt are among the subjects it addresses. This comedy is romantic, deeply so, but in the more arcane sense of the word: visionary, tinged with fantasy, extravagant in feeling, maybe a little nuts.”— The New York Times

“Touching, inventive, invigoratingly compact, and luminously liquid, Eurydice reframes the ancient myth of ill-fated love to focus not on the bereaved musician but on his dead bride—and on her struggle with love beyond the grave.”— San Francisco Chronicle

This volume is the first publication of Sarah Ruhl, “a playwright with a unique comic voice, perspective, and sense of theater” ( Variety ), who is fast leaving her mark on the American stage. In the award-winning Clean House —a play of uncommon romance and uncommon comedy—a maid who hates cleaning dreams about creating the perfect joke, while a doctor who treats cancer leaves his heart inside one of his patients. This volume also includes Eurydice, Ruhl’s reinvention of the tragic Greek tale of love and loss, together with a third play still to be named.

Sarah Ruhl received the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2004 for her play The Clean House, which has been produced at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia, South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC. Her play Eurydice has been produced at Madison Repertory Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

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The Clean House
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This play is dedicated to the doctors in my life, Tony and Kate
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The first act of The Clean House was commissioned in 2000 by the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ.

The world premiere production of The Clean House, in its full-length form, was produced by Yale Repertory Theatre (James Bundy, Artistic Director; Victoria Nolan, Managing Director) in New Haven, CT, on September 17, 2004. The production was directed by Bill Rauch; the set design was by Christopher Acebo, the lighting design was by Geoff Korf, the costume design was by Shigeru Yaji and the sound design and original music were by André Pluess (for information regarding the music, contact Bret Adams Ltd., Bruce Ostler, 448 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036); the dramaturg was Rachel Rusch and the production stage manager was James Mountcastle. The cast was as follows:
LANEElizabeth Norment
MATILDEZilah Mendoza
VIRGINIALaurie Kennedy
A WOMAN / ANACarmen de Lavallade and Franca M. Barchiesi
The Clean House was produced at the Goodman Theatre (Robert Falls, Artistic Director; Roche Schulfer, Executive Director) in Chicago on May 9, 2006. The production was directed by Jessica Thebus; the set design was by Todd Rosenthal, the lighting design was by James F. Ingalls, the costume design was by Linda Roethke and the sound design and original music were by André Pluess and Ben Sussman; the choreographer was Maria Lampert, the dramaturg was Tanya Palmer, the production stage manager was Joseph Drummond and the stage manager was T. Paul Lynch. The cast was as follows:
LANEMary Beth Fisher
MATILDEGuenia Lemos
VIRGINIAChristine Estabrook
CHARLESPatrick Clear
ANAMarilyn Dodds Frank
The Clean House will receive a production at Lincoln Center Theater (André Bishop, Artistic Director; Bernard Gersten, Executive Producer) in New York City on October 5, 2006. The production will be directed by Bill Rauch; with set design by Christopher Acebo, lighting design by James F. Ingalls, costume design by Shigeru Yaji and sound design and original music by André Pluess. The cast will include:
LANEBlair Brown
MATILDEVanessa Aspillaga
VIRGINIAJill Clayburgh
CHARLESJohn Dossett
ANAConcetta Tomei


LANE: A doctor, a woman in her early fifties. She wears white.
MATILDE: Lane’s cleaning lady, a woman in her late twenties. She wears black. She is Brazilian. She has a refined sense of deadpan.
VIRGINIA: Lane’s sister, a woman in her late fifties.
CHARLES: Lane’s husband, a man in his fifties. A compassionate surgeon. He is childlike underneath his white coat. In Act 1, Charles plays Matilde’s father.
ANA: An Argentinean woman. She is impossibly charismatic. In Act 1, she plays Matilde’s mother. She is older than Lane.
Note: Everyone in this play should be able to tell a really good joke.


A metaphysical Connecticut. Or, a house that is not far from the sea and not far from the city.
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A white living room.
White couch, white vase, white lamp, white rug.
A balcony.

Note: The living room needn’t be full of living room detail, though it should fee...

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