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Letters from Max

Letters from Max

New York, NY
This world premiere is heartbreaking and heartwarming.
105 Reviews on Show-Score

About Letters from Max

Signature Theatre presents the world premiere production of MacArthur Fellow Sarah Ruhl’s Letters from Max, directed by Kate Whoriskey, based on the book by Sarah Ruhl and Max Ritvo (Milkweed Editions). Ruhl adapts the 2018 epistolary book Letters from Max: A Poet, a Teacher, a Friendship, “a resonant and profound contribution from two fully formed artists to the literature of illness” (Slate), into a lyrical hybrid work that flows between full-hearted letters, poetry, music, and dialogue. With Letters from Max, Ruhl shares a personal correspondence, in the various forms it assumes between two people fervently pursuing, and offering one another the generosity of, higher expression. In these notes, verses, and utterances, her former student, the late poet Max Ritvo (Four Reincarnations), openly discusses terminal illness and tests poetry’s capacity to put to words what otherwise feels ineffable.

Tell Me More

Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl presents a heartfelt world-premiere play, Letters From Max, at Signature Theatre. Get Letters From Max tickets on TodayTix now.

The Letters From Max play, adapted from the same-named memoir, is about the power of poetry to express what otherwise seems unspeakable. The sole two characters are Ruhl and her former student, Max Ritvo, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He and Ruhl exchange letters and poems that allow them to process their grief, hardship, and loss, and they grow and learn from each other as they correspond.

Playing Ruhl in Letters From Max off Broadway is Jessica Hecht, an Emmy nominee for Netflix's Special and a Tony nominee for A View From the Bridge. She's also known for playing Susan Bunch on Friends, Gretchen Schwartz on Breaking Bad, and Carol on The Boys.

Alternating in the role of Max are Ben Edelman and Zane Pais, and Kate Whoriskey directs. She recently directed Clyde's on Broadway starring Uzo Aduba.

Ruhl is best known for writing the Pulitzer-nominated plays In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) and The Clean House.

Get tickets to Letters From Max in New York on TodayTix.

What to Watch For

  • The original memoir, published in 2018, is titled in full Letters From Max: A Poet, a Teacher, and a Friendship. The book consists almost entirely of the letters Ruhl and Ritvo exchanged.
  • The play and book take place across four years, from 2012 (when Ritvo joined Ruhl's class) to 2016 (his death).
  • Ruhl is having a busy season. Just this past November, she premiered another play in New York: Becky Nurse of Salem starring Tony winner Deirdre O'Connell.
  • Hecht is also doing double duty this season. Right after wrapping Letters From Max, she's starring opposite Laura Linney in Summer, 1976 on Broadway.
Run time

2 hrs 15 mins

Start date

February 7th, 2023

End date

March 26th, 2023




Pershing Square Signature Center




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