Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop (above). Fringe Theater's 'Dear Elizabeth' with Paula Cabot, Andrew Cannady, and Denise Nathanson on cello. CLICK HERE FOR TIX.

Dear Elizabeth
         by Sarah Ruhl

“When I first read their letters, I felt compelled to keep going. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next,” playwright Sarah Ruhl said recently of her new play Dear Elizabeth. “People don’t often know what to do with friendships, but they have a life – a rhythm of their own.”
 
Fringe Theater explores that rhythm in its upcoming production of Dear Elizabeth, presented in conjunction with Theatre XP and the Key West Summer Stage at the Red Barn Theatre, July 26-29, 8pm at the Red Barn Theater, located at 319 Duval Street. 
 
Dear Elizabeth is based on the letters exchanged over a 30-year period between two Pulitzer Prize winning poets, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Their friendship was complicated – built on respect but driven by something more. 
 
Elizabeth Bishop was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet who published only 101 poems in her troubled lifetime. She drank heavily, was capable of obsession with the women she loved, and considered poetry a way of 'thinking one's feelings.'  Interestingly, she lived for many years in her Key West home on White Street.  
 
Robert Lowell was only 30 years old when he met Elizabeth Bishop. He had already been appointed poet laureate, won the Pulitzer Prize, and was considered one of the most influential American poets of his time.  He published prolifically throughout his life, despite being hospitalized frequently for mania.  
 
"They deeply loved each, but were not always certain what they should do with that love," Ruhl said in an interview.  She explored the sometimes turbulent friendship as it was revealed in more than 450 letters exchanged over the span of 30 years.  “I wanted to use their own words to create a play -- to let them tell their own story.”

This compelling and beautiful play explores friendship, unrequited love, personal demons, and the people who not only survived it all, but turned it into poetry. 
 
Tickets for Dear Elizabeth are $25 and are available HERE or 305-296-9911. Dear Elizabeth runs four nights only, July 26-29 at 8pm. 

Dear Elizabeth

A Stamp on the Outside, Intimacy on the Inside: 
A theater review by the NY Times
 “I seem to spend my life missing you,” Robert Lowellwrote to Elizabeth Bishop, many years after the long and intimate friendship between these two great American poets began. In another letter he sadly observed, “We seem attached to each other by some stiff piece of wire, so that each time one moves, the other moves in another direction.”

The geographical distance between them, breached only rarely during their sometimes tumultuous lives, was a deeply felt burden to both — if perhaps occasionally a blessing, too. But it left behind a great literary treasure: more than 400 letters that they exchanged as their careers and lives blossomed, faltered, foundered, almost fell apart, then blossomed anew. The playwright Sarah Ruhl has distilled from their voluminous correspondence a concise selection to create “Dear Elizabeth."  Read the full New York Times review here.

--Captivating

Shakespeare in Schools

Our Shakespeare in Schools program visited Treasure Village Montessori (Islamorada), Marathon Middle & High Schools, Sigsbee Charter School, and Key West High School.  The program was directed by Judy Hadley, coordinated by Alicia Merel, and performed by Don Bearden, Chrissie Jacobs, Wayne Dapser, Mathias Maloff, Alicia Merel, John McDonald, and Diana Heller.  
Want to donate to this program?  Join Elizabeth Birmingham & Kelton Skipper, Neal Ruchman, Maxine Makover & Jack Paul, Kim Gordon, Key West Woman's Club, and Florida Keys Council of the Arts as supporters of our Shakespeare in Schools program.  Make a tax deductible donation to Fringe Theater to support this program.  Mail us your check to Fringe Theater, PO Box 5737, Key West FL 33045. Or  CLICK HERE.