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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Inside 'Mortal Terror'

Robert Brustein
Mortal Terror is the second play in a Shakespeare trilogy I have been writing, and it concerns the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, an event that bears an uncanny resemblance to the World Trade Center Plot of 2001. (The Jacobean version was meant to blow the twin towers of Parliament into the Thames.) I imagine Shakespeare, during this time, being asked by James I of England, to write a play justifying his right to the throne. Against his conscious will, he writes Macbeth, with its references to witches (James wrote a book about them) and the Gunpowder Plot (in the Porters speech).

I also imagine that Shakespeare and James's Danish Queen Anne came very close to an affair, and that he helped his drinking companions, Ben Jonson and John Marston, out of a lot of trouble with the King when they satirized the Scots.

The play also concerns the conflicts within an artist forced by circumstances to write against his will, and the way that even something intended as propaganda can become a work of art, if the artist is gifted enough. And, most of all, Mortal Terror is about Shakespeare's growing awareness of mankind's inhumanity to man.

- Robert Brustein, Playwright

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