Passion Play And Theatre Elements

I’m working on an extra credit assignment for my theatre class about Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, and I was wondering what you all thought about the protagonist/antagonist/and especially the climax might be? What’s interesting about this play is that it is separated in three Acts, but repeating the same kind of story line in each [although the era’s are different]. I thought about exploring the idea that maybe the Village Idiot would be considered the protagonist and antagonist might be Pontius?? The climax is interesting though depending if you look at the acts as separate plays or take all the acts into account and try to analyze which would be considered the climax.

Any thoughts?

6 thoughts on “Passion Play And Theatre Elements

  1. I also agree in terms of there being a few climaxes, for my assignment I put it was considered an “episodic play” instead of it having one distinct climax. I also considered having a few protagonists and antagonists.
    For protagonists I believe I said [if anyone was wondering]- John from act 1, Violet for Act 2, and maybe either P or Violet for act 3.
    Antagonists I said it would be Pontius for act 1, maybe Hitler or the foot soldier for act 2, and I said J for act 3.
    I wanted to break each Act up as a kind of separate play, but overall when it came time to discuss the climaxes, as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I looked over the whole play and parts as having several climaxes.

  2. If we look at Passion Play through one of the things we learned in feminist criticism, there definitely are climaxes, no matter how thin the play is spread. Feminist criticism pointed out that climaxes can be much shorter and fluctuate rapidly, breaking the typical model of one long buildup to a strong climax followed by a conclusion. There are many small climaxes throughout Passion Play.

    You could even see the two page excerpt of the German Officer and Foot Soldier as a small story arch contained within that space. When the Officer is seducing the Virgin Mary right before the Soldier and threatening him with the repercussions of homosexuality, we have it build and grow more tense until the issue is uneasily “settled.”

    I’m sure your assignment is over by now, but I would have identified the three big climaxes in the three acts, then mentioned the minor ones peppered throughout the play.

  3. I agree with Reilly aw well, P comes out more as a protagonist in the first and last acts but yet again its all up to you. There is no real obvious climax with in the play because it is separated into three parts. One event that I see as an obvious climax is at the end of Part 3 when P is watching the play and the audience of the play thinks he commits suicide. I think this part is huge, just because it allows the audience to wonder what actually happens. It drops very quickly with the second part being P. explaining what actually happened but gives a huge climatic feel in the play.

  4. Yeah all that’s true. As I sat down and actually thought about this play and the formal elements of it, I never considered what each of the characters might be in relation to them.

  5. I agree with Reilly; it is really difficult to pinpoint the climax, or who is the antagonist or protagonist. I, too, see P as the protagonist in the first and last act, and I see Violet as the protagonist in the second act. Again, this is purely my opinion. I base it on the fact that these are the characters that I empathize with during the Acts.

  6. I see P as a protagonist in the first and last act, so it’s definitely highly subjective. It’s hard to find an “overall” climax across the three parts, because it really is set up so odd, especially when you consider that you sometimes would see Act I and II one night at one theater, and see the last part the next night, AND that Ruhl wrote Part III so much later. It might be easier for you to split it up that way.

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