- Paperback: 112 pages
- Publisher: Theatre Communications Group; 1st edition (May 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781559361521
- ISBN-13: 978-1559361521
- ASIN: 1559361522
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Collected Stories Paperback – May 1, 1998
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Margulies' best-known play, Sight Unseen, is a moody, intelligent meditation on modern art and the creative process. In his new play, he returns to those themes, this time focusing on two writers--one just starting out, the other a grizzled old veteran--and the relationship that blossoms between them as the older mentors her student, shepherding her toward the first glimmers of success and acclaim. Beautiful, heartfelt, tightly written, the play never resorts to easy cliche s or cinematic notions of what it is to be a writer: there are no great scenes of agonized genius at work--or at play. Instead, Margulies shows us, in six sharp, clear-eyed scenes, set in each of six years in his characters' lives, the everyday moments that make up two lives, the small disappointments and smaller triumphs, the white lies and seemingly minor betrayals that mark a relationship. And it all makes fascinating reading. Once started, the 85-page play is hard to put down. Jack Helbig
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From the story Lisa had submitted in class for Ruth's critique, Ruth thought Lisa was another student. "You don't particularly look like your story," she says to Lisa. "Almost without exception my students tend to look like their stories." "So am I not a serious-looking person?" asks Lisa. "No, you're not." Thus starts one of the best written scenes I've read about what works and what doesn't in writing. It's the start of a complicated relationship between established writer Ruth and writer-wannabee Lisa. Over the years, Lisa moves from being Ruth's pupil to serving as gofer and then confidante to the aging writer. Ruth unveils a long past affair with the poet Delmore Schwartz, who womanized as much as he drank (which is to say constantly). The moment was the high point in her life. Lisa has become the child Ruth never had and so she tells her everything.
But the relationship changes as all relationships do over time, especially those between mentor and pupil. Ruth advises her not to submit a short story to Grand Street but Lisa submits it anyway. It's accepted, it's her first published story. Lisa's first book of short stories is both praised and savaged by the critics and the two women celebrate because at last Lisa is acknowledged as a talent to watch. Their relationship ends in acrimony. Ruth feels betrayed by Lisa. Lisa doesn't acknowledge what she's done with Ruth's confidences and she doesn't truly care. The ending is strong, filled with feeling, and it rings true.
"The] unifying theme [in my plays] is loss," said playwright Margulies in an interview for PBS. It is the sensitive depiction of loss that ultimately makes Collected Stories so effective and so moving It's about a relationship (mentor to pupil/pupil to mentor) that many of us -no, most of us --have experienced at some point in our lives and it captures the sense of regret we felt when it ended. Collected Stories was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 and Margulies won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Dinner with Friends in 2000. Uta Hagen played Ruth in the original New York production; Linda Lavin played her when the play was revived in 2010. Great roles attract great actors.