Portland Stage Presents THE CLEAN HOUSE By Sarah Ruhl
Portland Stage Company presents The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl, September 24 - October 13, 2019
Sarah Ruhl, a young playwright The New York Times has heaped high praise on including "Jockeys have the Triple Crown, hockey players have the three-goal hat trick, but there is no equivalent in the theater for what has been happening to Sarah Ruhl lately. ," is winner of multiple awards, including the MacArthur genius grant. Her greatly admired play, The Clean House, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It features five actors, two of whom are local Maine artists: Rob Cameron and Abigail Killeen, an award-winning theater teacher (Outstanding Teaching Award, Brandeis University and a Karofsky Encore Lecture Recipient at Bowdoin College) and is a member of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers. She currently serves as an Associate Professor of Theater in the Department of Theater and Dance at Bowdoin College.
When asked to share her reflections on this poignant work, actor Killeen responded, "I recently read this quote by Brene Brown:
"'People may call what happens at midlife a crisis, but it's not. It's an unraveling - a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you're supposed to live. The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are.'
Lane has every success: she's wealthy, accomplished and beautiful. And then her life falls apart. In response she clings even harder to the life she thinks she's supposed to be living. But by the end, and through the support of the suffering women around her, she can begin to embrace who she is. Lane's journey is the gift of midlife - one of discovery, born of suffering. It's a rueful discovery - perhaps that's why the play's so funny! But like Lane, I am grateful to learn more and more that the slow, hard, joyful work of my very own soul's development is worth far more than the world's prizes: as nice as they are in the fleeting moment, they do not substance make."
In this play, conflict and comedy weave a whimsical tale about cleaning, relationships and finding the perfect apple. Matilde, a young Brazilian woman, is hired to keep a spotless, modern apartment clean by Lane and her husband Charles--two successful physicians. Unfortunately, cleaning depresses Matilde. Instead, she focuses on inventing a joke so funny it could kill someone. In this poignant comedy, Sarah Ruhl reminds us what's important in life, and that humor and beauty enchant in the most unlikely places.
"As Ms. Ruhl's compassionate comedy argues, the best things in life - a sublime joke, a fulfilling purpose, a soul mate, even a satisfactory death - are infinitely worth waiting for. And it is our good fortune that The Clean House,'. . . fully taps its tart humor, theatrical audacity and emotional richness." - New York Times
The Clean House explores ideas of love, loss, and the way we care for others. While her maid, Matilde, tries to invent a joke so funny it could kill someone, we see Lane's life strain to the breaking point. As we witness the fallout of her life we also experience the many ways love, laughter, and purpose can save us from ourselves.
The Clean House is directed by Cait Robinson,a freelance theater director based on New York who has most recently directed for American Repertory Theater and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is also a Maine native and graduate of Bowdoin College with deep roots at Portland Stage where she served as a Drama & Dramaturgy Intern in 2010-11. Robinson shared her connection with the play.
"Everyone in The Clean House has gone through or goes through a great loss that completely unmoors their sense of self--because of love, because of death, because of small, mundane life events that gradually chip away at and reshape them. They wake up one morning and rules of their world have changed, and they can no longer move through life in the same way. How do you--and can you even--go forward after that?
I think the wisdom The Clean House offers is that you can. It will be odd and sad and funny, very messy and not at all what we planned, not really like the movies or Aristotelian in structure--but that there is hope and healing and tremendous beauty on the other side of the gulf. In form as well as content, the play invites both its audience and characters to lay down our old burdens for a bit that we might be freed up to embrace something new."
The Clean House premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2004. This extraordinary play by an exciting voice in the American drama went on to acclaimed productions at several major theaters coast to coast before winding up Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center, where it had an extended run. The Clean House was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Previews $32-$37; Sat & Sun Matinee $45-$60, All other performances $40-$55. This includes the $3 ticket fees. Discounts are available for Seniors, Students, Rush35 and Groups. You can purchase tickets by calling the box office at 207-774-0465, or online at portlandstage.org