The Ruling Passion
David Hume, Samuel Johnson, and James Boswell in a play about the moment when the modern age was born and Fundamentalism first rose to crush it down. Also, a little love story. 1776. David Hume, the mind at the center of the Scottish Enlightenment, is dying without fear of hell or hope of heaven. Samuel Johnson has completed his dictionary and reigns supreme as the authority of all things written in the English language. Both have the same disciple: James Boswell, an alcoholic, diseased, sex obsessed man who is driven by his fear of death to record every moment of his life in his journal. In a lifelong search for a father figure, he is torn between the Royalist, conservative Samuel Johnson and the Deist, progressive David Hume—men whose philosophies and religious beliefs are diametrically opposed and who are bitter enemies. At stake is the future biography Boswell will write, and the literary and cultural immortality it will grant. David Hume’s peaceful acceptance of approaching death pushes Boswell to the very brink of madness, and proves to be the moment that determines Boswell’s choice.
New Harmony Institute
State Theatre New Play Festival
Playlabs, The Playwrights Center