What if a drug tested by a pharmaceutical company as medically “legitimate” also affected the body, mind, and spirit in a combination of ways not everyone is comfortable with—making sex more intense and pleasurable, stimulating libido, increasing empathy and feelings of love, and alleviating fear? Would the FDA sanction it? Would the DEA stay away from it? Would society approve of it? And would it make life better, worse, or just more maddeningly complicated?

RISE is set in the fictional town of Rise, Arizona, and mines the richly connected relationships of its ensemble cast of characters to explore the complexities, curses, and blessings of sexuality, as well as the universal desire to find real fulfillment and feel good. Like people everywhere, the characters in RISE are willing to take risks as they seek satisfying and meaningful lives, risks that often have downsides, whether they acknowledge them or not.

In Rise, people either know, or think they know, everyone else’s business. Despite massive layoffs at the nearby open-pit copper mine, there are enough new people in Rise to support businesses like the Wine Bar Café and the updated coffee shop that try so hard to be hip. A small new-age enclave and a clothing-optional hot-springs resort are dramatic new additions to a rural culture in which conservative congregations swell on Sundays, and where businesses post Bible verses on their marquees.