Written by award-winning Nashville music journalist Edward Morris, "The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg" is a one-person, three-act radio play and podcast that focuses on the nearly three years Ethel (portrayed by Keri Pagetta) and her husband, Julius, spent in prison on charges of spying for Russia before being executed by electric chair in 1953. From her prison cell, she recalls her impoverished upbringing on New York’s Lower East Side, and reflects on the choices she made and ambitions she’ll never achieve. Based largely on actual letters exchanged in prison between Ethel and Julius and primary sources from that time, the play imagines Ethel’s agony at the prospect of being executed and leaving her two young sons behind. It also traces her transition from an aspiring and talented singer to a fervent political activist and focuses on a love for her husband so passionate that she unflinchingly followed him to the electric chair. The three acts are followed by an interview episode with Morris and Pagetta.
The play is introduced by Natasha Senjavoic, a Nashville-based Pulitzer Center grantee, reporter, producer and editor, and scored by Nashville musician and producer Joe Pisapia (Guster, k.d. lang and others). Photos by David Poag. Directed for podcast by Keri and Joe Pagetta based on the original direction for the stage by Carolyn German. It was produced by Keri and Joe Pagetta.
Bonus Interview: The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg (a Radio Play)
In this bonus interview episode of "The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg," playwright Edward Morris and actor Keri Pagetta sit down with host Natasha Senjanovic for a discussion about the writing and performance of the play, its many themes and contemporary resonance, and their hopes for what listeners can take away from Ethel's story.
Act III: The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg (a Radio Play)
In the third and final act, Ethel reflects on her and Julius' 14th wedding anniversary, a campaign to spare her life, and failed stays-of-execution. She readies herself for the inevitable.
Act II: The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg (a Radio Play)
After being transferred from Women's Detention Center in New York City to Sing Sing prison, Ethel reflects on meeting her husband, Julius, motherhood, being a communist, life in prison, and her trial.
Act I: The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg (a Radio Play)
Seven months after Ethel is arrested on charges of espionage and incarcerated at Women's Detention Center in New York City, Ethel reflects on her childhood.
Trailer: The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg (a Radio Play)
A brief introduction to The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg, a one-person, three-act radio play and podcast based on the last years of Ethel Rosenberg's life before her execution on espionage charges in 1953.