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Encyclopedia > Equus (play)
Cover of 1993 Longman edition of Equus.
Cover of 1993 Longman edition of Equus.

Equus is a play by Peter Shaffer written in 1973, telling the story of a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious/sexual fascination with horses.[1] Image File history File links Equusplaybookcover2. ... Image File history File links Equusplaybookcover2. ... Year 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1993 Gregorian calendar). ... Longman is a firm of English publishers. ... // Sir Peter Levin Shaffer (born May 15, 1926) is an English dramatist, author of numerous award-winning plays, several of which have been filmed. ... For the song by James Blunt, see 1973 (song). ... For other uses, see Psychiatrist (disambiguation). ... This article is about zoophilia, the emotional and (optionally) sexual attraction of humans to animals. ... Binomial name Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758 The horse (Equus caballus, sometimes seen as a subspecies of the Wild Horse, Equus ferus caballus) is a large odd-toed ungulate mammal, one of ten modern species of the genus Equus. ...

Shaffer was inspired to write Equus when he heard of a crime involving a teenage boy who blinded six horses. He set out to construct a fictional account of what might have caused the incident, without knowing any of the details of the crime. The play is essentially a detective story, with the psychiatrist trying to understand the cause of the boy's actions while wrestling with his own sense of purpose. This article is about the visual condition. ... For other uses, see Psychiatrist (disambiguation). ...


Plot summary

The play is set in the office of psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart [2]. It begins with a monologue from Dysart in which he outlines that the case of seventeen-year old Alan Strang is among the strangest with which he has ever dealt. He also divulges feelings that his occupation is not all that he wishes it would be. He sees so many troubled young people and there is a never-ending supply of them for him to "adjust". A court official visits Dysart as she believes he has the skills in his profession to help Alan come to terms with a violent act he perpetrated. Alan had, seemingly inexplicably, blinded six horses at a stable in which he worked.

To begin with, Dysart has a great deal of difficulty making any kind of headway with Alan who responds to any kind of questioning by singing advertising jingles. Slowly, Dysart makes contact with Alan by playing a kind of game where each of them asks a question which must be answered honestly. He finds out that from an early age Alan has been receiving conflicting viewpoints on religion from his parents. Dora Strang, a devout Christian and the mother of Alan, read to him daily from the Bible. This antagonizes Alan's atheist father, Frank Strang, who, concerned that Alan took far too much interest in the more violent aspects of the Bible, specifically the crucifixion of Christ, takes out his frustration by destroying a picture of the crucifixion that Alan has at the foot of his bed. He replaced the picture with one of a horse. From the earliest days of the medium, television has been used as a vehicle for advertising in some countries. ... For other uses, see Christian (disambiguation). ... This Gutenberg Bible is displayed by the United States Library. ... For information about the band, see Atheist (band). ... For other uses, see Crucifixion (disambiguation). ... This page is about the title, office or what is known in Christian theology as the Divine Person. ...

In conversation with Dysart, Frank reveals that one night he saw Alan kneeling in front of the picture of the horse chanting a made-up genealogy of horses parodying that of Christ in the Bible. The list of names ends with "Equus." Whilst kneeling, Alan takes a coat hanger and flagellates. Through further questioning of Alan, it is revealed that he made up for his lack of a focus for his worship by deifying horses. Alan believes that the spirit of Equus resides in all horses. Wire (top) and wooden (bottom) clothes hangers Clothes hanger with Clamps A clothes hanger, or coat hanger, is a device in the shape of: Human shoulders designed to facilitate the hanging of a coat, jacket, sweater, shirt, blouse or dress in a manner that prevents wrinkles, with a lower bar... Whipping on a post Flagellation is the act of whipping (Latin flagellum, whip) the human body. ... Look up Apotheosis in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Alan has a job working in a shop selling electrical goods, where he meets Jill Mason. She visits the shop wanting blades for horse-clippers. Alan is instantly interested when he discovers that Jill has such close contact with horses. Jill suggests that Alan work for the owner of the stables, Harry Dalton, and Alan agrees.

Alan is held by Dalton to be a model worker, since he keeps the stables immaculately clean and grooms the horses, including one named "Nugget." Through Dysart's questioning, it becomes clear that Alan is erotically fixated on Nugget and secretly takes him for midnight rides. Alan rides him bareback and naked enjoying the feeling of the power of the animal and the smell of the sweat. This article is about zoophilia, the emotional and (optionally) sexual attraction of humans to animals. ... Bareback can refer to riding horses without a saddle Unprotected sexual activity, sexual activity in which a condom is not used. ...

One day, Jill asks Alan to take her to a pornography theatre. While there, they run into Frank. They all leave embarrassed after giving weak excuses for their presence in the theater. However, this chance occurrence allows Alan to realize that sex is a natural thing that all men - even his father - do. Alan walks Jill home but Jill suggests that they go to the stables to have sex. Alan is very nervous in the stable as he hears the horses moving around. He is frustrated that his nervousness makes him unable to get an erection. He threatens Jill with a hoof pick and makes her leave the stable. When she is gone he blames the horses and the spirit of Equus for his embarrassment, and punishes the six horses by blinding them for seeing his shame. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The erection of the penis, clitoris or a nipple is its enlarged and firm state. ... Common tools used for grooming a horse Horse grooming is hygenic care given to a horse, or a process by which the horses physical appearance is enhanced for horse shows or other types of competition. ...

The play concludes with Dysart questioning the fundamentals of his practice and whether or not what he does will actually 'help' Alan, as the effect of his treatment will remove Alan's extremely intense sexual and religious connections. Dysart also reflects upon his life noticing that it has not yielded any such comparable passion, and that he has the bit in his mouth. a horse carries a bit in its mouth, held on by a bridle. ...

Original productions

The play was originally staged at the Royal National Theatre at the Old Vic in London in 1973. It was directed by John Dexter and starred Alec McCowen as psychiatrist Martin Dysart and Peter Firth as Alan Strang, the young patient. It was subsequently presented on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre with Anthony Hopkins and Peter Firth. The Royal National Theatre from Waterloo Bridge The Royal National Theatre is a building complex and theatre company located on the South Bank in London, England immediately east of the southern end of Waterloo Bridge. ... The exterior of the Old Vic from the corner of Baylis Road and Waterloo Road. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... For the song by James Blunt, see 1973 (song). ... John Dexter (born 2 August 1925 in Derby, England - died 23 March 1990 in London) was an English theatre, opera and film director. ... Alec McCowen (born May 26, 1925) is an English actor, best known for classical roles including Shakespeare. ... Peter Firth Peter Firth (born October 27, 1953 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, UK) is a British actor, well known for a variety of starring roles in film and on television from the 1970s to the 2000s. ... For other uses of Broadway, see Broadway. ... The Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre is a Broadway theatre. ... For the composer, see Antony Hopkins. ... Peter Firth Peter Firth (born October 27, 1953 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, UK) is a British actor, well known for a variety of starring roles in film and on television from the 1970s to the 2000s. ...

Later on, Tom Hulce played the role of Alan Strang, and Anthony Perkins replaced Hopkins as Martin Dysart. Perkins was briefly replaced by Richard Burton for the star's return to Broadway for a limited run. Perkins resumed the part when Burton's run ended. The play received a Tony Award for best play in 1975. Thomas Hulce (born December 6, 1953) is an Academy Award-nominated, Tony Award and Emmy Award-winning American actor and producer. ... Anthony Perkins (April 4, 1932 – September 12, 1992) was an Academy Award-nominated American stage and screen actor best known for his role as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcocks Psycho and its three sequels, Psycho II, Psycho III and Psycho IV: The Beginning. ... For other persons named Richard Burton, see Richard Burton (disambiguation). ... What is popularly called the Tony Award (formally, the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre) is an annual award celebrating achievements in live American theater, including musical theater, primarily honoring productions on Broadway in New York. ... Year 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Equus was acclaimed not only for its dramatic craftmanship and the performances by the stars, but also for its brilliantly original staging. The horses were portrayed by actors in brown track suits, wearing a wire abstraction of a horse's head. The entire cast, including the actors playing the horses, remained seated on stage for the play's duration, watching the action along with the audience. Part of the audience was seated on the stage as well, in bleachers that looked out into the auditorium, creating the effect that the spectators surrounded the action. Bleachers is a term used to describe the raised, tiered stands found by sports fields or at other spectator events. ...

Film adaptation

Main article: Equus (film)

Shaffer adapted the play for a 1977 film starring Richard Burton, Peter Firth, Eileen Atkins, Colin Blakely, Joan Plowright, and Jenny Agutter, directed by Sidney Lumet. Equus is a 1977 film by Sidney Lumet. ... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... For other persons named Richard Burton, see Richard Burton (disambiguation). ... Peter Firth Peter Firth (born October 27, 1953 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, UK) is a British actor, well known for a variety of starring roles in film and on television from the 1970s to the 2000s. ... Dame Eileen June Atkins, DBE (born June 16, 1934 in London, England) is a British writer and an award-winning film and theatre actress. ... Colin Blakely (September 23, 1930 - May 7, 1987) was a British character actor. ... Joan Ann Olivier, Baroness Olivier DBE, née Plowright (born October 28, 1929), known professionally as Dame Joan Plowright is a British actress and widow of Laurence Olivier. ... Jennifer Ann Agutter (born December 20, 1952) is an English actress. ... Portrait of Sidney Lumet, May 7, 1939. ...

Main article: Equus 2007 (film)


Massachusetts' Berkshire Theatre Festival revived Equus in the Summer of 2005, staged by Scott Schwartz, with Victor Slezak as Dysart and Randy Harrison as Strang. (Roberta Maxwell, who originated the role of Jill in the original 1970s Broadway production, played Heasther in this revival.) This article is about the U.S. State. ... One of the oldest professional performing arts venues in the Berkshires, the Berkshire Theatre Festival is celebrating its 80th anniversary season in 2008. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Scott Schwartz was a child actor most famous for playing opposite Richard Pryor in 1982s The Toy. ... Victor Slezak (born July 30, 1957, in Youngstown, Ohio) is an American stage and screen actor who has appeared in films including The Bridges of Madison County (1995), Beyond Rangoon (1995), The Devils Own (1997), The Siege (1998),The Cats Meow (2001), Timequest (2002), and The Notorious Bettie... Randolph Clarke Harrison (known as Randy Harrison, born November 2, 1977 in Nashua, New Hampshire) is an American actor whose best-known role so far is that of Justin Taylor in the 2000s television drama Queer as Folk. ... Roberta Maxwell (born 1942 in Toronto, Ontario) is a Canadian actress. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, also called The Seventies. ...

George Takei played Dysart in a 2006 revival, featuring an Asian Pacific cast, done at East West Players in Los Angeles, California. His Star Trek co-star, Leonard Nimoy, had played Dysart late in the play's 1970s Broadway run. George Hosato Takei (IPA: ) (born April 20, 1937) is an American actor known for his role in the TV series Star Trek, in which he played the helmsman Hikaru Sulu on the USS Enterprise. ... An Asian American is a person of Asian ancestry or origin who was born in or is an immigrant to the United States. ... Category: ... The current Star Trek franchise logo Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment series and media franchise. ... Leonard Simon Nimoy (born March 26, 1931) is an American actor, film director, poet, musician and photographer. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, also called The Seventies. ...

Equus was revived in 2007 in London's West End, with Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe in the leading roles. The production was directed by Thea Sharrock, and opened in February 2007 at the Gielgud Theatre. The production attracted a lot of press attention, as both Radcliffe and Griffiths appear in the Harry Potter film franchise. In particular the casting of seventeen year-old Radcliffe caused some controversy, since the role of Alan Strang required him to appear naked on stage.[1] Radcliffe insisted that the nude scene was not "gratuitous" and that he should portray the character and the scene as called for by the script. Peter Firth gave more than 1,000 performances as Alan Strang; however, Radcliffe has stated in interviews that he chose not to watch the 1977 film, as he did not want to be influenced by Firth's interpretation of the character. Richard Griffiths (born 31 July 1947) is a Tony award winning English actor who has appeared on stage, film and television. ... Daniel Jacob Radcliffe[1] (born 23 July 1989) is an English film, television and stage actor. ... Thea Sharrock (born 1976) is an award-winning English theatre director. ... February 2007 is the second month of the year. ... Schillers Don Carlos starring Derek Jacobi as Philip II of Spain at the Gielgud Theatre, February 2005 The Gielgud Theatre, named after British actor John Gielgud, is a West End theatre in Londons Shaftesbury Avenue at the corner of Rupert Street. ... This article is about the Harry Potter series of novels. ... Peter Firth Peter Firth (born October 27, 1953 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, UK) is a British actor, well known for a variety of starring roles in film and on television from the 1970s to the 2000s. ...

Following the West End run, Radcliffe has expressed his desire to revive the role of Alan Strang on Broadway in media articles and interviews and has speculated that, due to his current Harry Potter filming schedule, "Equus" would likely make its transfer to Broadway in late 2008. Richard Griffiths would reprise his role as psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart, and other cast members from the 2007 West End production may join the Broadway run if this can be arranged; however, Radcliffe has stated in interviews that he and Griffiths are "definites" for a Broadway revival and that the reality becomes "more probable every day." This article is about the Harry Potter series of novels. ... Richard Griffiths (born 31 July 1947) is a Tony award winning English actor who has appeared on stage, film and television. ...

Equus is currently (November 2007) being revived by Unifaun Theatre on the island of Malta, at the Saint James Cavalier, with Alan Paris in the role of Dr. Martin Dysart and Sean Buhagiar as Alan Strang. The performance is directed by Marcelle Theuma. St. ...

Popular culture

  • In an episode of the television series Get a Life (#207, "Chris the Escort"), Chris Elliott's character attends a performance of Equus starring Max Baer Jr. and Ron Palillo.
  • In the Simpsons episode The Seven-Beer Snitch, a theatre marquee in Shelbyville advertises "Sideshow Mel in Equus". Recently, it was also in another episode, Springfield Up, where Homer decides as one of his new jobs to make Play-doh scenes which shows a scene from Equus. Interestingly, this episode originally aired on the same weekend the 2007 revival premiered in London.
  • Equus was briefly mentioned on an episode of That '70s Show
  • In the popular book, (later made a film adaption starring James McAvoy) 'Starter for Ten' by David Nicholls, it is mentioned that Bristol University's Theatre club is putting on Equus that year.
  • The play was the focus of a 2006 article by the satirical newspaper The Onion with the headline "Second-Graders Wow Audience With School Production Of Equus".
  • Blonde Redhead's album Misery is a Butterfly includes a track entitled "Equus".
  • The Barnes & Barnes album Voobaha includes a song called "Clip Clop (Ode to Equus)".
  • In an episode of The Golden Girls entitled "Mrs. George Devereaux", Dorothy mentions that Sonny Bono and Lyle Waggoner played the lead roles in a production of Equus.
  • In John Morgan Wilson's book The Limits of Justice, the plot centers heavily on a pedophile's ranch, named "Equus".
  • Goran Visnjic got his start in acting when he was 12, with a part in a Croatian stage production of Equus. He received a standing ovation.
  • In the June 2007 issue of Out magazine, a fashion story started by model Chad White was inspired by Equus.

This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Chris Elliott (born May 31, 1960 in New York City) is an American comedian and the son of comedian Bob Elliott. ... Max Baer Jr. ... Ron Palillo (born April 2, 1949) is an American television and film actor best known for his role as high school student Arnold Horshack on the ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, which aired from 1975 to 1979. ... Simpsons redirects here. ... The Seven-Beer Snitch is the fourteenth episode of The Simpsons sixteenth season, first aired on April 3, 2005 in the US. While the family visits Shelbyville, the citizens of Shelbyville call Springfields residents hicks. ... Shelbyville is a fictional city on the television series The Simpsons that is located adjacent to Springfield. ... Sideshow Mel, full name Melvin van Horne (voiced by Dan Castellaneta), is a minor character on the animated TV show The Simpsons. ... Springfield Up is the thirteenth episode of the eighteenth season of The Simpsons, which originally aired on February 18, 2007. ... Homer Simpson is also a character in the book and film The Day of the Locust. ... Green Play-Doh with can and accessory toy Play-Doh is a commercial plastic modeling compound similar in texture to bread dough that has been sold as a childrens toy around the world for a half century. ... That 70s Show is an American television sitcom that centers on the lives of a group of teenagers living in Point Place, Wisconsin, a fictional suburb of either Kenosha or Green Bay[1] from May 17, 1976 to December 31, 1979. ... James Andrew McAvoy (April 21, 1979[1]) is a BAFTA-winning Scottish actor. ... Starter for Ten by David Nicholls is a book first published in 2003 about Brian Jackson in his first year of university and his attempts to get on the BBC quiz show University Challenge. ... The Reverend David Gwyn Nicholls DLitt (Oxon) (1936-1996) Born Woking, Surrey, on 3 June 1936, David Nicholls was educated at Woking Grammar School (1947-54), the London School of Economics (1954-57, Lash Prize 1956, BScEcon in Government (first-class honours) 1957, Gladstone Prize 1957), King’s College, Cambridge... The Onion is a United States-based parody newspaper published weekly in print and daily online. ... Blonde Redhead is an alternative rock or indie rock band. ... Barnes & Barnes, fictional twin brothers Art & Artie Barnes, are a novelty rock duo based in Lumania, a fictional mythological civilization (similar to Lemuria or Atlantis). ... For the Hong Kong film, see The Golden Girls (1995 film). ... Salvatore Phillip Sonny Bono (February 16, 1935) – January 5, 1998) was an American record producer, singer, actor, and politician whose career spanned over three decades. ... Lyle Waggoner (born April 13, 1935 in Kansas City, Kansas) is a tall (64 (1. ... Goran Višnjić (born on September 9, 1972) is a Croatian actor. ... Out is a popular gay magazine. ...


  1. ^ Naked stage role for Potter star. BBC News (2006). Retrieved on 2007-02-22.

Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era in the 21st century. ... is the 53rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...

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