Ilse Zhalina is the daughter of one of Melnek's more prominent merchants. She has lived most of her life surrounded by the trappings of wealth and privilege. Many would consider hers a happy lot. But there are dark secrets, especially in the best of families. Ilse has learned that for a young woman of her beauty and social station, to be passive and silent is the best way to survive.
When Ilse finally meets the older man she is to marry, she realizes he is far crueler and more deadly than her father could ever be. Ilse chooses to run. This choice will change her life forever.
And it will lead her to Raul Kosenmark, master of one of the land's most notorious pleasure houses...and who is, as Ilse discovers, a puppetmaster of a different sort altogether. Ilse discovers a world where every pleasure has a price and there are levels of magic and intrigue she once thought unimaginable. She also finds the other half of her heart.
"Passion Play" is Beth Bernobich's first novel.
Named one of the "Ten Best Plays of 2008" by "The New Yorker"
"Sarah Ruhl's bold, inventive, and ironic triptych is] a meditation on devotion and its appropriation by the state. . . . Ruhl is an original; a storyteller with a fine mind evolving her own theatrical idiom."--John Lahr, "The New Yorker"
"It's a different kind of morality play . . . an often wondrous work . . . with Ruhl's] own special lyrical blend of poetry, humor and grace."--Frank Rizzo, "Variety"
"Passion Play" is Sarah Ruhl's "biggest, most ambitious effort yet" ("The New York Times"), a three-and-a-half hour intimate epic, plunging the depths of the timely intersection of politics and religion. Ruhl dramatizes a community of players rehearsing their annual staging of the Easter Passion in three different eras: 1575 northern England, just before Queen Elizabeth outlaws the ritual; 1934 Oberammergua, Bavaria, as Hitler is rising to power; and Spearfish, South Dakota, from the time of Vietnam through Reagan's presidency. In each period, the players grapple in different ways with the transformative nature of art, and politics are never far in the background, as Queen Elizabeth, Hitler, and Reagan each appear, played by a single commanding actor.
Sarah Ruhl's plays include "Dead Man's Cell Phone," "Eurydice," and "The Clean House," which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work has been widely produced both throughout the country and internationally, and she is the recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.