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Sarah Ruhl to Pen Memoir About Life With Bell’s Palsy

Tony nominee and Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl will turn the focus of her writing to herself in a memoir. The upcoming book, titled Smile, will examine the playwright’s life after being diagnosed with Bell’s palsy in 2010, she tells The New York Times.

The condition, which she learned of shortly after the birth of her twins, caused partial paralysis, leaving her to relearn how to blink and unable to smile. In the book, published by Simon & Schuster, she will contemplate the significance of a woman’s smile as it pertains to personal self-expression and cultural conversations at large.

Ruhl describes the story as “an outlier experience of motherhood, but hopefully a path forward that has some sense of humor and hope about healing.”

Ruhl’s plays include Dead Man’s Cell Phone, The Oldest Boy, and For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday. She was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Clean House in 2005 and In the Next Room in 2010; the latter also earned her a Tony Award nomination.

She also penned the libretto for an opera adaptation of her Eurydice, collaborating with composer Matthew Aucoin. The piece will make its world premiere next year at Los Angeles Opera in a production directed by Mary Zimmerman.

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