Our Ruined House

PETE, 2019

Written by Robert Quillen Camp
Directed by Jacob Coleman
Scenic Design by Peter Ksander
Lighting Design by Miranda Hardy
Costume Design by Jenny Ampersand
Sound Design by Mark Valadez
Video Design by Trevor Sargent
Created with the company: Rebecca Lingafelter, Cristi Miles, Amber Whitehall, Denis Butkus, Andrew Start



“Our Ruined House” puts a big idea in a small space, making it easier for us to consider. It asks us to consider what we want our national dialogue to be, how we should relate to each other, and it does it with a thoughtful curiosity and generous humor.” - The Oregonian Full Review

“A glorious colossus of the bizarre.” - Willamette Week Full Review 


A Quick Note on Sources and Sources of Comfort
In addition to Donald Rumsfeld’s “snowflake” memos, some of the key texts floating in and around this play are the poems that Anna Akhmatova wrote in the 1930’s, while her work was banned from publication under Stalin. Her poem “The Last Toast,” quoted in the play, also provides its title: Our Ruined House. While the poem’s theme is domestic collapse, it shares an outlook and a vocabulary with the more explicitly political work she composed around the same time, notably the “Requiem” cycle, which memorialized the victims of state terror. She whispered the lines of these poems to friends, who memorized them, and then she burnt the scraps of paper so that her forbidden work would not be discovered. Akhmatova’s poems persisted only in the absence of official record, only as a kind of leak beyond the permissible. Compare that with Rumsfeld’s thousands andthousands of dictated memos, filling shelves upon shelves of archival boxes. Perhaps with Rumsfeld we can imagine that writing oneself into the official record provides a particular kind of comfort. The opposite of a leak, it is instead a flooding—an attempt to overwhelm and dominate the archive. These various sources, both sanctioned and forbidden, surround the play, whispering different responses to the question: how do we keep living in a ruined house, or country, or  world? How do we find comfort if we also bear responsibility? Unlike Rumsfeld, Akhmatova never lets herself—or us—off the hook. In “I hid my heart from you,” composed two years after “The Last Toast,”  she writes:
Misfortune’s black whisper
Nestles warmly to my ear—
And murmurs, as if this were
Its business for the night:
“You wanted comfort,
Do you know where it is—your comfort?”