The Alcestiad

by  Thornton Wilder

Full Length Play, Drama  /  18m, 4f, 1boy(s)

Thornton Wilder referred to The Alcestiadas “a mixture of religious revival, mother-love-dynamite, and heroic daring-do.” 

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    18m, 4f, 1boy(s)
  • Duration


    120 minutes (2 hours)
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  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

Thornton Wilder referred to The Alcestiad as “a mixture of religious revival, mother-love-dynamite, and heroic daring-do.” In it, he retells the ancient legend of Alcestis, Queen of Thessaly, who gave her life for her husband, Admetus, beloved of Apollo, and was brought back from Hell by Hercules. When the brave and confused Alcestis returns from the dead, asking large questions about what matters most in life and how we lead it, we catch more than a glimpse of Emily in Act III of Our Town. Like Emily, Wilder’s Alcestis is a seeker after understanding, to whom “there is only one misery, and that is ignorance.” Written in the tradition of the early Greek tragedies, enhanced by Wilder’s quintessential combination of plain-spoken poignancy and humor, neither death nor happiness is what it seems to be in this work of enormous emotional range. 

The Alcestiad is followed, according to Greek tradition, by a short, comic satyr play. In The Drunken Sisters, Wilder’s satyr play, Apollo, disguised as a kitchen-boy, seeks to confound the three Fates to save the life of Admetus.

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  • Tappan Wilder on Thornton Wilder's The Alcestiad Pt. 1
  • Tappan Wilder on Thornton Wilder's The Alcestiad Pt. 2
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  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $125 per performance



  • Time Period: Greek; Roman & Biblical
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)


18m, 4f, 1boy(s)
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Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), born in Madison, Wisconsin, and educated at Yale and Princeton, was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works explore the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience.

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