Ruth is a full-length play in verse for a minimum of six actors: three men, two women, and one who may be either a man or a woman. Ideally, the cast should include enough additional personnel to build a “Chorus” that plays music, dances, speaks, and chants. The play is a modern re-telling of the biblical story of Ruth, set in Western North Carolina, and using a variety of traditional and experimental verse forms.
I wrote the first draft of the play during a stay as Artist-In-Residence at the Association d’Art de La Napoule in southern France in the spring of 2000, thanks to a fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council. The first staged reading occurred the following summer at the North Carolina Governor’s School East at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. The play received its professional premiere in June of 2002, in a co-production by Blue Shift Theatre Ensemble and Lenoir-Rhyne College, under the direction of Eric Johnson. An extraordinary set was designed and lit, using only practicals, by Adam Larsen and David McManus. All sound was produced on stage by the actors using a variety of found, “prepared,” and simply improvised instruments, including a drum kit built from pots, pans, trash cans, strips of metal and other post-industrial detritus. The cast included Patricia Buckley as “Ruth,” Camilla Schade as “Nancy,” Stephen Spiese as “Abrams,” Joe Sturgeon as “Bozeman,” and Josh Yoder as “Boy.” I played the “Chorus Leader,” with Ginny Lee and Gretchen Ferris as “Chorus Members.” The production was artistically extraordinary; the play has never been produced again.