The Last Will

by  Robert Brustein

Full Length Play, Drama  /  3m, 3f

The Last Will finds William Shakespeare retired at his country home on Stratford after decades of struggle and success in the city of London. In the last stages of a fatal illness, his deteriorating mind obliterates the distinction between fiction and fact, and the playwright begins acting as a character in his own plays...

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    3m, 3f
  • Duration

    Duration

    90 minutes
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Biography, Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Appropriate for all audiences

Additional Info

The Last Will finds William Shakespeare retired at his country home on Stratford after decades of struggle and success in the city of London. In the last stages of a fatal illness, his deteriorating mind obliterates the distinction between fiction and fact, and the playwright begins acting as a character in his own plays. Richard Burbage, leader of Shakespeare's acting company, attempts to persuade him to return to London and to playwriting, as Will wrestles with his suspicions, delusions, family resentment, and final testaments.

The Last Will is the final piece in a trilogy of plays by Robert Brustein about the life of Shakespeare. The first installment is The English Channel followed by Mortal Terror. 
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Reviews

"Robert Brustein lovingly kills off William Shakespeare in 'The Last Will,' a speculative version of the end of Shakespeare’s life that completes Mr. Brustein’s trilogy on him." - New York Times

"Mr. Brustein...takes the few known facts about Shakespeare’s last years and shapes a story that fits them, centering it on the writer’s will. He imagines the genesis of that somewhat odd document, which left Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, his “second-best bed” and treated his two daughters unevenly." - New York Times

"The well-written script successfully fuses Shakespearian language with a modern, speculative story taking place in Elizabethan England." - Theatre Mania

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

Cautions

  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 16th Century / Elizabethan, 17th Century
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Setting: The play takes place in the four years between Shakespeare's return to Stratford in 1612 and his death in 1616, and occurs in various settings surrounding his home at Stratford upon Avon. 
  • Additional Features: No intermission
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Chorus Size: N/A (Not a musical)

Casting

3m, 3f
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE - 48
ANNE HATHAWAY - Will's wife, 56
SUSANNA SHAKESPEARE (HALL) - Will's eldest daughter, 30
JUDITH SHAKESPEARE - Will's younger daughter, 27
FRANCIS COLLINS - Lawyer, 47
RICHARD BURBAGE - Actor in Will's company, 45
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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)

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Authors

Robert Brustein

Robert Brustein served as the founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Repertory Theaters, and has supervised well over two hundred productions, acting in eight and directing twelve. He has written eleven adaptations for the American Repertory Theater and ...

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The Last Will received its world premier production in February of 2013 with the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company of Boston.

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