The Yale Repertory Theater will open its 50th Anniversary Season with “Scenes from Court Life” Friday.
“Scenes from Court Life” once again brings together playwright Sarah Ruhl and director Mark Wing-Davey, who previously directed Ruhl’s three-part “Passion Play,” an epic that premiered at the Rep in 2008. “Scenes from Court Life” features Charles I and Charles II, 17th century British rulers from the Stuart dynasty, as well as present political figures and siblings Jeb and George W. Bush ’68. Ruhl juxtaposes royal courts and tennis courts, which serve as two backdrops for the play’s action.
“I’m thrilled to be back at Yale Rep with Mark and his epic imagination, during a season in which our democracy seems like just as wild an experiment as our theatres,” Ruhl wrote in a program note.
She said the play ties together several themes, including dynastic succession, the Restoration, American political families, sibling rivalry and Baroque music as it draws a connection between historical events and figures separated by hundreds of years. Inspired by the start of the presidential primary season, the play reflects on themes of democracy within the play’s two courts, Ruhl said.
This is Ruhl’s sixth collaboration with the Rep, which is celebrating half a century of existence. Artistic Director and Yale School of Drama Dean James Bundy DRA ’95 said the originality and humor of “Scenes from Court Life,” paired with the Rep’s longstanding partnership with Ruhl, made this play a natural choice to open the anniversary season.
He noted that in addition to the five shows of the season, the Rep and some of its sponsors are hosting additional special events and exhibits.
“It’s a theatrical cocktail of invention, compassion and humor. It’s charming, subversive and disturbing” Bundy said. “Our fifty year history has been marked by strong relationships with extraordinary playwrights, and we couldn’t think of a better way to start the year than with a new work by Sarah Ruhl.”
Bundy added that Ruhl is one of the most important and imaginative American playwrights in the industry.
Ruhl is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and formerly taught a course on Ovid’s Metamorphoses at the University. An alumna of Brown, Ruhl began her artistic relationship with the Rep in 2004, when her romantic comedy “The Clean House” premiered.
Shalisa James ’18, who plans on seeing “Scenes from Court Life” in the next few weeks, said she is interested by the way in which the play brings together British monarchs and contemporary American politicians.
A photography exhibit on view at the Aisling Gallery of The Study at Yale, a panel discussion at Yale including artists from each era of the theatre’s history and a photography exhibit at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, featuring images from previous Rep productions, are among the celebratory events supplementing the Rep’s season.
“Expect terrific acting, wonderful plays, big ideas, beautiful productions, exciting conversations and easy access to the 50th season of professional theater at Yale,” Bundy said.
“Scenes of Court Life” runs through Oct. 22 at the Yale Repertory Theater.