Susan Cain’s Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole Is Heading to the Stage | Playbill

Industry News Susan Cain’s Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole Is Heading to the Stage

Cain will pen the adaptation with Mara Lieberman.

Bated Breath Theatre Company and RRR Productions have optioned Susan Cain’s New York Times No. 1 best-selling book Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole for the stage. 

Mara Lieberman, executive artistic director of Bated Breath, will pen the stage adaptation in collaboration with Cain. A timeline for a production has yet to be announced.

The book weaves together stories of loss and resilience, the author’s personal experience, art, literature, religion, and science—from Darwin to epigenetics—to explain why longing and loss are so deeply profound, inspirational, and transformational.

Bittersweet: The Play will follow a mother’s journey following a promise from Buddha that he can resurrect her late daughter if she can procure a mustard seed from a house not touched by grief. On the other side of time, the mother meets musician Leonard Cohen, writer Maya Angelou, scientist Charles Darwin, and others who transformed their grief into offerings that changed the course of history.

“Reading Bittersweet was a visceral experience, and I can’t think of a more visceral medium than the theatre. It just felt right in this everchanging pandemic landscape to theatricalize some of the breathtaking stories in Bittersweet that remind us that our losses can be a doorway to our resilience,” says Lieberman.

"When Mara reached out to me, I was thrilled that Bittersweet impacted a brilliant theatre maker so much, and now I can’t wait to see the stories touch the hearts of theatre audiences—through the magic of the stage," adds Cain. “I would love to involve my readers as we develop the play and invite them into the creative journey.” To stay connected, visit

Bated Breath Theatre Company is best known for its immersive, pandemic-friendly walking tour productions Voyeur: The Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec and Chasing Andy Warhol.

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