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Percy Mackaye (Percy Wallace Mackaye) Biography

(1875–1956), (Percy Wallace Mackaye)

American playwright, born in New York, educated at Harvard; he was the son of Steele Mackaye, an important figure in the modernization of nineteenth-century American theatre. Percy MacKaye wrote many plays in a variety of modes including the tetralogy The Mystery of Hamlet, King of Denmark; or, What We Will (1949), imagining events which preceded Shakespeare's play. His single success, The Scarecrow (1911), based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's tale ‘Feathertop’, is a dark fantasy of amatory vengefulness, in which a New England scarecrow is brought to life by the Devil and a seventeenth-century witch, Goody Rickby, to be the agent of revenge against the man who had been Goody's lover. MacKaye is highly regarded by theatre historians, even though attempts to stage his historical dramas and political satires have never proved successful. He anticipates the convictions of later twentieth-century American playwrights such as Arthur Miller and Edward Albee in his belief in the ideal of a subsidized non-commercial theatre, and wrote about these issues in The Playhouse and the Play (1909), The Civic Theatre (1912), and Community Drama (1917).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Earl Lovelace Biography to Madmen and Specialists