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Against Gravity: Sarah Ruhl’s Ovidian Dramaturgy

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2018, 31(1), pp.57-87
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Sung Hee Choi 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to examine feminist implications of Sarah Ruhl’s dramaturgy, which follows the Ovidian model of metamorphosis, resisting and transforming the rigid power of gravity. Analyzing intersections between Ruhl’s anti-gravity dramaturgy and philosophies of Camus, Nietzsche, Weil, and Bergson, who have delved into human existential problems in relation to the concept of gravity, this critique demonstrates how Ruhl’s drama, armed with the spirit of child(Nietzsche’s Übermensch) and the descending power of grace(Weil), changes the solemn battle against gravity into a dancing of elan vital(Bergson) that continues to generate spontaneous metamorphosis leading to new communities across boundaries. This work also uses the metaphor of “a perfect joke”(The Clean House) to illuminate Ruhl’s Ovidian dramaturgy that is untranslatable, collective, liminal, and transformative. Freed from the gravity of the Aristotelian “unities,” Ruhl’s Ovidian drama expresses and embodies the dynamics of vital energy with no chain of causality in plot or psychological details of characters. In conclusion, this paper argues that Ruhl, like Bergson, emphasizes the importance of action and challenges the audience to interpret her unconventional play from their own perspectives and thereby participate in the duration of elan vital with their on-going “differences.”

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.