Benedict Arnold: A Drama of the American Revolution in Five Acts
Benedict Arnold was the greatest combat soldier of the American Revolution. Yet, in September 1780, in collusion with the beautiful Tory agent Peggy Shippen and British spymaster John Andre, he attempted to betray George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton, and the critical fortress of West Point into Royal hands. This devastating plot came within a hair's breath of succeeding, and the fragile infant American cause was only saved by the chance intervention of three of the humblest and most improbable heroes ever to grace the annals of history.
Exciting and dramatic, the tale of the Arnold conspiracy recounts the most perilous moment in the birth of the new nation, and plumbs the depths and the heights of human nature. Now, in the historically accurate play, Benedict Arnold, noted scientist and author Robert Zubrin brings this incredible and still meaningful story back to life.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
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This historical play, set in the American Revolution, dramatises how the Rebel General Benedict Arnold was moved to change sides. Arnold, like Oliver Cromwell in the previous century, is a man with no military background who turned out a brilliant general and leader of men. He first faces a campaign of slander by jealous politicians. The British spymaster in America, Major John André, then uses the beautiful young Peggy Shippen to entrap Arnold into a marriage beyond his means. Arnold's huge debts provide the point of leverage from which André can work his plan, although it does not turn out entirely to André's own advantage. The play is deliberately written in a variety of styles, with naturalistic dialogue interspersed with lengthy stylised speeches in highly formal language. This would require careful staging and direction to guide the audience. 'Benedict Arnold' is reminiscent of Shakespeare's 'Othello', in that it is the villain who is the protagonist. Early scenes establish Arnold's military abilities, but after that the action is driven by André, in the same way that the plot of 'Othello' is driven by Iago. Once Arnold is no longer a field general, partly because of a wound, he loses the platform on which he was accustomed to act and increasingly becomes a passive victim. He finally recovers his power of initiative and bets everything on the gamble of changing sides, a ploy in which he must face the highest of risks to gain his reward. The character of Arnold provides interesting possibilities for the actor who plays him and for the director. He could be played as a noble character who is broken by unbearable pressures, or as a man whose weaknesses are cleverly and ruthlessly exploited by his enemies. Even though he spends much of the play reacting to the actions of others rather than driving the action himself, he is always the centre of attention. From the practical point of view, the play could be produced by a relatively small company without major expense, so as well as being worthy of consideration by professional producers, it would be suitable for amateur groups as well.
In 1777, the colonial forces flounder in the battle at Saratoga, New York against the troops of English General Burgoyne. The ragtag rebels are ready to retreat although no orders have come from leader General Gates. Realizing that an opportunity for success is at hand and Gates is nowhere to be found, General Arnold rallies the troops and leads a counter assault. The Americans win the battle, but Gates takes the glory. Over the next few years, Arnold proves to be the best field Commander, but fame and fortune seem to go to others less capable and in some cases abject failures. Beautiful teenage Pennsylvanian Tory Peggy Shipton and British top colonial spymaster Major John Andre recruit the frustrated Arnold to betray the West Point Fortress. They almost succeeded except for the unlikely heroic intervention of three skinners. --- This five act play is a strong biographical look at one of the most fascinating tragic figures in American history. The story line paints quite a different picture of Benedict Arnold, whose name denotes traitor. Of equal interest is the insightful glimpse at other key Founding Fathers especially Gates as well as Arnold¿s two partners in treachery. Readers will appreciate this fine drama and hope a production will one day follow. --- Harriet Klausner