A dominant figure in seventeenth-century French theater, Pierre Corneille created over thirty dramatic works including The Illusion written in 1635. Corneille later characterized the play as a strange monster, bizarre and extravagant. In The Illusion, Corneille fuses the role of the artist with that of the sorcerer and sparks a lively debate on the nature of the theater itself that remains both provocative and timely.
Commissioned to adapt The Illusion, playwright Tony Kushner became enamored with Corneille's stark depiction of the darkness that haunts the play's many varieties of passionate love. Kushner's treatment of Corneille's text highlights the risks that accompany affairs of the heart. It asks us, as Alcandre asks Pridamant, to consider what is real in this world and not seeming?