Women have claimed a spot at the center of American theatre, and the characters they craft, the stories they tell, the questions they pose, and the ideas they materialize have the potential to shape the cultural imagination of a large group of theatre-goers as a complex new era unfolds. Sarah Ruhl is the early twenty-first century's most widely produced and frequently honored American female playwright. While critics have heretofore emphasized the whimsical elements of her dramaturgy, this study highlights her feminist engagement with current social and ethical concerns. Ruhl's popular, feminist plays are best appreciated when they are read in concert with the work of her contemporaries - Lisa Loomer, Diana Son, Joan Didion, Jenny Schwartz, Young Jean Lee, Kate Fodor, Yasmina Reza, Bathsheba Doran, Lynn Nottage, and Kia Corthron - whose writing also wrestles with the vexing issues facing Americans in the new century.
Leslie Atkins Durham is an associate professor of Theatre Arts at Boise State University. Her previous books are Staging Gertrude Stein: Absence, Culture, and the Landscape of the American Alternative Theatre and Theatre Lives: An Introduction to Theatre
(co-authored with Sally Shedd).