By Patrick Hamilton, Directed by John Lipe
Performances October 10-12 and 17-19, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm. Tickets on sale at the Varstiy Center for the Arts, and online (Box Office link above) at 5:00 pm, Friday, October 3.
About the play and the real crime that inspired it ~
Rope was written in 1929. It was inspired by the real-life murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks, coldly and methodically planned and executed in 1924 by two of his contemporaries, Nathan Leopold, Jr. and Richard Loeb. Loeb was a neighbor and distant cousin of Franks. All three were from the same wealthy Chicago neighborhood, and all three were highly intelligent. At 19 Leopold, with an IQ above 200, was in law school. Leopold and Loeb started with minor crimes, and eventually their feelings of superiority and twisted morality led them to this murder. Leopold wrote to Loeb before the murder, saying, “In formulating a superman, he is, on account of certain superior qualities inherent in him exempted from the ordinary laws which govern ordinary men.”*
Leopold and Loeb’s feelings of superiority eventually led to their downfall. The hubris of sending a ransom note to the victim’s family after killing him and using acid so that his body might not be identified, was one of the mistakes made by this “infallible” duo, which led to their arrest and conviction.
In 1948, Hume Cronyn and Arthur Laurents adapted the stage play for the screen, and Alfred Hitchcock directed Rope as his first color film. The famous Hitchcock film starred Jimmy Stewart as a professor who inadvertently sparked the idea for the crime in the minds of the two murderers.
In the play and in the film, two college friends kill a third, then gloat to themselves about their cleverness at committing the crime and