The Separation Of Church And State Essay

The Separation Of Church And State Essay

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Sarah Ruhl presents themes of the separation of church and state as well as the exploration of personal identity in her dynamic, humorous and engaging show, Passion Play. Her play uses the historical presentation of the religious show, the passion of the Christ, as a backdrop for a small community to explore their own identity in the contexts of the characters they play. The presentation of the passion also becomes a platform for world leader’s political agendas. Ruhl seamlessly flows between reality and magical realism to connect these themes of identity and politics together. The play utilizes cycles of history to further emphasis the blurred lines of personal morality and political intent. The complete show combines three full length storylines of a community presenting the crucifixion of the Christian figure-head, Jesus Christ, each in their own respective time period. Part one is set in a small village during Elizabethan England, particularly in 1575, where the production of religious shows were forbidden. The second part takes place in the famous German town of Oberammergau, in 1934, during the rise of the Nazi’s power. The third and final part, which was not written by Ruhl until years after the first two, occurs in the United States, showing a different perspective from the other two European-set parts. Another unique concept of the third part is that it begins in 1969 and runs forward to the present with scenes occurring during Reagan’s presidency instead of a single distinct time period like the first two parts. All three parts, including intermission, run for approximately three hours together, but present a well-rounded and complete arch of the themes explored. A single part shows the complications of self-identity whe...


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...before finding Christ and becoming baptized to live a holy and redeeming life. Her life works as an example in the passion as a sinner turned saint and how Christ’s love can heal the soul. Magdalene’s storyline also enabled more people to relate the action of the show by incorporating a caring, yet sinning person. Mary 2 in Ruhl’s rendition functions in a similar way playing the role of the comforter or confident for the other characters, like Mary 1, Pontius, and Jesus, who struggle with the sins in their own lives. Eventually, the addition of the other storylines made the presentation of the passion during the church service impossible for lack of time and the two diverged to better fulfill their missions separately. The passion of the Christ continued to change and morph throughout the ages, gaining stories and losing them, for the purpose of the target audience.

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