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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Oldest Boy

The Oldest Boy

A Play in Three Ceremonies

Sarah Ruhl

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


In this moving exploration of parenthood, an American mother and a Tibetan father have a three-year-old son believed to be the reincarnation of a Buddhist lama. When a Tibetan lama and a monk come to their home unexpectedly, asking to take their child away for a life of spiritual training in India, the parents must make a life-altering choice that will test their strength, their marriage, and their hearts.

The Oldest Boy is a richly emotional journey filled with music, dance, puppetry, ritual, and laughter—Sarah Ruhl at her imaginative best. A meditation on attachment and unconditional love, the play asks us to believe in a world in which sometimes the youngest children are also the oldest and wisest teachers.


A tasteful house decorated with rich Tibetan colors.

Half Western furniture, half Eastern furniture and rugs.

A few large statues of the Buddha.

A woman,...

Praise for The Oldest Boy

“Gorgeous . . . Extremely imaginative and hypnotically beautiful.” —Marilyn Stasio, Variety

“[An] emotional tsunami . . . An extraordinary story [from] a singular new voice in American theater.” —David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“Ms. Ruhl’s drama [The Oldest Boy] is among the most easily accessible from this poetic, venturesome playwright . . . It is marked by Ms. Ruhl’s inquisitive intelligence, clean-lined eloquence and spiky humor.” —Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

“Bewitching, ingenious and seriously moving.” —Linda Winer, Newsday

Reviews from Goodreads

Sarah Ruhl

Sarah Ruhl's plays include In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee); The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); Passion Play, a cycle (PEN American Award); Dead Man's Cell Phone (Helen Hayes Award); and, most recently, Stage Kiss and Dear Elizabeth. She has been the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award, the Whiting Writers' Award, the PEN Center Award for a midcareer playwright, the Feminist Press's Forty Under Forty Award, and the 2010 Lilly Award. She is currently on the faculty at Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.

image of Sarah Ruhlo
© Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Sarah Ruhl

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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