The Old Glory
Three PlaysBook - 2000
Winner of Five Obies, now back in print after fifteen years, a stage adaptation of classic stories by Hawthorne and Melville
In the three plays in The Old Glory--Endecott and the Red Cross ; My Kinsman, Major Molineux ; and Benito Cereno --the most powerful figure in postwar American poetry confronts the most haunting American fiction writers of the nineteenth century. The result is a mythical, nightmare history of three centuries in America. In Endecott and the Red Cross, Hawthorne's Puritan governor, horrified by his colony's high living, declares, "Everything in America will be Bible, blood and iron. / England will no longer exist." The other two plays, based on Hawthorne's My Kinsman, Major Molineux and Melville's Benito Cereno , take up the themes of parricide and independence: one in Boston on the eve of the Revolutionary War, the other on a merchant ship in the Caribbean in the early nineteenth century.
The plays were first performed in 1964, when the poet Randall Jarrell wrote: "I have never seen a better American play than Benito Cereno , the major play in Robert Lowell's The Old Glory . . . The play is a masterpiece of imaginative knowledge."