These plays by Eric Bentley, all of them variations on plays by Heinrich von Kleist, as follows: Concord, which depicts discord in Concord, Massachusetts around the year 1800. From Kleist's The Broken Jug: who broke that jug? It hardly seems a metaphysical question, or even an important one. But in a sense it was. Eric Bentley has explored it. The Fall of the Amazons, in which the Greek hero Achilles is slain by the Amazon queen, Penthesilea. Kleist rejected the older version of the story in which he killed her. Kleist's version receives another twist from Eric Bentley. Wannsee is the third play in The Kleist Variations (and also the lake on whose shores Heinrich von Kleist committed suicide). But his play Cathy of Heilbronn rather leaves the impression that ""God's in his Heaven, all's right with the world."" Eric Bentley juxtaposes the suicide and the play. The Kleist Variations follows Monstrous Martyrdoms and Rallying Cries, nine Bentley plays in all. The Kleist Variations was written for the theatre of the State University of New York in Buffalo and was first produced there.
Eric Bentley was born in England in 1916 and became an American citizen in 1948. He has earned a reputation as a scholar, teacher, professional theatre critic, performer, and, last but not least, a playwright. In 1998, he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Many of his books are now regarded as classic texts-The Playwright as Thinker (Harvest, 1987), The Life of the Drama (Applause, 1991), and Bentley on Brecht (Applause, 1999). Northwestern University Press has published other seminal works by Bentley, Including Rallying Cries (1977) and its companion volume Monstrous Martyrdoms (2004), Thinking about the Playwright (1987), The Plrandello Commentarles (1986), and his translation of Pirandello's Plays (1998).