“That’s what his stare has been saying to me all this time: ‘At least I galloped — when did you?'” — psychiatrist Martin Dysart speaking about Alan Strang, Equus

“[I]t is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship [emphasis added]” — film maker Ingmar Bergman

“Religion is the opium of the people” — Karl Marx, cited in the play by Alan Strang


In-text MLA citations of a play or dramatic work typically reference the act, scene, and/or line number rather than the page number. For example:

(Shaffer act II. scene 12. lines 110-112)

Editions without line numbering should omit the line numbers.



“A Note on the Play”

Shaffer in this introductory note mentions that the play is inspired by an actual event.  Why and how is this significant according to him?

“The Setting”

The instructions for the construction of the stage here are specific and unique.  What does it entail?  Shaffer adds another specific detail, insisting that “the cast of Equus sits on the stage the entire evening. They get up to perform their scenes, and return when they are done to their places around the set” (3).   What effect do you think this might have on the viewers of the audience? How does this impact the way the play is received?

“The Horses”

Aside from track suits and gloves the actors playing horses wear masks made of wire and leather.  If we think of this as a “caging” effect of the person inside of the animal, how might this be significant?

“The Chorus”

This references the notion of the chorus, a mainstay of classical Greek drama — a group of performers apart from the main characters in play that comment on the actions unfolding within the play.  This commentary of the classical Greek chorus is typically collective with lines being delivered through song, or simply spoken in unison.  How does the chorus here in Equus differ?  How is it similar?

Act One, Scene One

This act opens with a short speech (soliloquy) from the psychiatrist Martin Dysart.  In this speech, how and why does Dysart compare himself to a horse?

 Act One, Scene Two

Who is Hesther Salomon and what is her relationship to Alan Strang and Dysart?

 Act One, Scene Three

Here we learn that Alan Strang seems only capable of singing commercial jingles.  Is there any element of the story here that might have unfolded differently here had we not been viewing/reading a play?

 Act One, Scene Four

What is the overall purpose of the short dialogue in this scene?  What does it show us?

 Act One, Scene Five

Dysart tells us here about a disturbing dream he has had. What exactly makes it so disturbing?  How is related to Dysart’s mention of his “doubts” (10) from scene 1? How might Dysart’s feelings about his profession be reflected in his actions in the dream or in his compulsion for “keeping up appearances” for the other priests?


 Works Cited

Shaffer, P. Equus. 1973. New York: Scribner, 2005. Print.