The General from America

by  Richard Nelson

Full Length Play, Drama  /  11m, 3f

"Takes a Shakespearean approach to Arnold's character.... Exploring the human complexity behind such a reductive term as "traitor", it exposes the puritanical hypocrisy and corruption that marched beside the heralded courage of our national beginnings" - The Village Voice

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The General from America

by  Richard Nelson

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    11m, 3f
  • Duration

    Duration

    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Docudrama/Historic
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

The Tony award-winning playwright for James Joyce's The Dead draws an iconoclastic portrait of America's quintessential traitor, Benedict Arnold. The focus is on how and why a military hero who nearly gave his life for the cause of American freedom ended up disclosing vital information to the British. The circumstances necessarily reveal some of the founding fathers' less than heroic machinations. First produced the Royal Shakespeare Company and in Houston and New York by The Alley Theatre, this is a rewarding look at intrigue in American history.

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Reviews

REVIEWS

"Takes a Shakespearean approach to Arnold's character.... Exploring the human complexity behind such a reductive term as traitor", it exposes the puritanical hypocrisy and corruption that marched beside the heralded courage of our national beginnings."- The Village Voice

"Doesn't invite you to either admire [Arnold] or to despise him. It simply says these are the circumstances that sometimes produce the most extraordinary and contradictory forms of human behavior."- The Christian Science Monitor 

"While Nelson's savvy play...is very much a historical drama, it's also brimming with anachronistic referents to British conceptions of the New World personality -- and vice versa." - Chicago Tribune

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 18th Century
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: Several locations along the East Coast, 1779
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Casting

11m, 3f

The Arnolds:
BENEDICT ARNOLD
PEGGY - his wife
HANNAH - his sister

The British:
SIR HENRY CLINTON - commander-in-chief of the British Army in North Amreica
JOHN ANDRE - a major
STEPHEN KEMBLE - a major, head of the British secret service
LADY CLINTON - Sir Henry's wife

The Americans:
GEORGE WASHINGTON - commander-in-chief of the Continental Army 
ALEXANDER HAMILTON - his aide-de-camp
JOSEPH REED - president of Pennsylvania
TIMOTHY MATLACK - secretaryof the Committee of Pennsylvania

The Others:
VAN WART - a skinner
PAULING - a skinner
ROBINSON - a loyalist

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Cast Attributes

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Resources

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Authors

Richard Nelson

Richard Nelson's plays include The Gabriel Plays (Women Of A Certain Age, What Did You Expect?, Hungry), Oblivion, Nikolai And The Others, The Apple Family Plays (That Hopey Changey Thing, Sweet And Sad, Regular Singing), Farewell To The Theatre, Conversations In Tusculum, Frank’s Home, How Shakespeare Won The West, Ro ...

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The General from America premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company in July 1996 under the direction of Howard Davies.

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