Curtains Up On Correspondence

Sarah Ruhl recently turned the correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell into a play, Dear Elizabeth. Why the collection of letters works on stage:

Their relationship was pretty dramatic! I think that’s partly why the letters are page-turners, because you’re just dying to know what happens in between the letters, when they actually meet up. There’s so much nuance in the way they talk about their meetings, but you’re never quite sure what happened. Like Bishop sort of apologizing, saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry about X, Y, or Z. I’ll explain when I see you.” But we never hear the explanation. Or she apologizes about being too teasing and opinionated. He tells her that he’s a new man thanks to her and thanks to seeing her in Stonington. So there are these touchstone moments early on in their relationship when you think they might fall in love or they might get married, and in fact, I think both of them had that “what if?” question about each other.