Show Business: Showman Shaffer

It was a historic opening at Broadway's Plymouth Theater. No sooner had the animal cries of pain subsided, the drumming hoofs died away, than the audience leaped to its feet to give Playwright Peter Shaffer, seated in a box, a five-minute ovation. No one could recall such a spontaneous demonstration on Broadway since Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman opened in 1949. The shy Shaffer was overwhelmed. "It's never happened to me before," he said. "I cry every time I think about it."

It took Shaffer 2½ years to write Equus, the dazzling psychological...

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