Interesting Questions, Facts and Information
- There are a total of 20 general entries.
Interesting Questions, Facts, and Information
Shaw, George Bernard
Pygmalion. It was made into a musical by Lerner and Loewe. A movie version starred Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn.
Ireland. He was born in Dublin.
|In 1929 Shaw had completed "The Apple Cart", which was first produced at the Malvern Festival that same year. The leading parts in the play are King Magnus, based on the persona of Shaw, and Orinthia (King Magnus' mistress), based on Mrs Campbell. Mrs Campbell appears to have taken the role of Orinthia too literally as herself, and thought she was portrayed scandalously. To which Shaw replies "I do not feel it to be a bit wrong. It plays magnificently. Orinthia never loses her distinction and beauty even when she rolls on the floor...So stand she shall to all eternity. Besides Orithinia is not a portrait; she is a study for which you sat as a model in bits only..."
What was the real essence of the story of "The Apple Cart"?||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
A view of future politics, exposing the unreality of both democracy and royalty as idealists see them.. In Shaw's preface he describes the play as..."a comedy in which a King defeats an attempt by his popularly elected Prime Minister to deprive him of the right to influence public opinion through the press and the platform: in short to reduce him to a cipher. The King's reply is that rather than be a cipher, he will abandon the throne and take his obviously very rosy chance of becoming a popularly elected Prime Minister himself." Shaw proved himself to be highly prophetic in this play in the roles that Britain, the US and big business would take on the future world stage.
His relationship with Mrs Campbell went into a decline, and their correspondence became erratic. She was constantly short of money and threatening to sell his letters, or pestering for his support in finding an acting role. In his final letter to her he says: "The giant is decrepit and his wife crippled with lumbago. Constance Collier tried for the part Pascal wanted you for...He gave you up because you could not be separated for six months from your dog. For Heavens sake, when that wretched animal perishes, buy a giant Panda or a giraffe or a water buffalo or a sea lion, any of which you can take with you anywhere..."
She died the following year (1940) aged 75. Shaw died in 1950 aged 94.
|As time went on, the correspondence between Shaw and Mrs. Campbell became scarcer and scarcer. She was a failing aging actress, unable to really accept her fall from grace and acclaim, while Shaw's status seemed to only grow with age.
Mrs. C "Will you take me to a matinee of Saint Joan this week? This would make up for a great deal...How lovely it would be to see the play with you. You won't refuse me will you, I'll soon be dead".
Shaw "If you knew the trouble that those unlucky letters made for me, you would understand a lot of things. I don't regret it; and it doesn't matter as it got you out of your difficulties for the moment, but O Lord Stella it mustn't happen again until we are both dead."
1925 was, however a momentous year for Shaw, as his talents were officially recognized. How was he honored?||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
He received the Nobel Prize for literature.. Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In his self-effacing way he wanted to decline the award, having no desire for public honors. He was persuaded to accept the prize by his wife Charlotte, which she considered a tribute to his Irish heritage. He did, however, refuse the prize money, and had it utilized in the translation of his works from English into Swedish.
"I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize."
He did also receive an Oscar in 1938 for his work on the script for the film version of "Pygmalion".
|Still squabbling with Mrs Campbell over letters and her endless campaign to appear in one of his plays, Shaw's "Saint Joan" opened at the Garrick Theatre in New York and then at the New Theatre in London in March of 1924. Arguably Shaw's finest work, it is based on the life and subsequent trial of Joan of Arc. Shaw had studied the voluminous transcripts of her trial. In his preface to the play he concluded: "There are no villains in the piece. Crime like disease, is not interesting: it is something to be done away with by general consent, and that's all [there is] about it."
With a new generation of English actresses emerging after the war, Shaw wrote the role of Joan of Arc specifically for which renowned actress?||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
Sybil Thorndike. Sybil Thorndike first appeared in 'The Merry Wives of Windsor', in 1904 at age 21. In a four year US tour in Shakespearean repertory, she gained invaluable experience, playing 112 different roles.
Shaw originally noticed her talents during her understudy of "Candida" in 1908. This production was directed by Shaw himself. She played in various leading roles n the US and England, and was a vital member of the Old Vic Company from 1914-18. There was a mutual admiration between Shaw and Thorndike, whose rendition of Joan is still considered the definitive portrayal.
Shaw mentions in a letter to Mrs Campbell "Sybil Thorndike for a whole month never let me doubt for a second that she regarded me as far superior to the Holy Trinity as a producer".
Shaw's relationship with Mrs Campbell had irrevocably changed "When I told you of my sudden loss of all specific interest in women, you did not notice the adjective. I see all women as I see other people. I always did, but with one eye only: the other eye was enchanted. Now the enchantment is gone, and I can no longer tell myself love stories".
|1922 saw the publication of Mrs Campbell's autobiography, having caused much consternation to Shaw over letters of his that were included in the book. They had a heated correspondence over the whole matter of her book.
"My book is obviously the work of an inexperienced sentimental, elderly lady... Your letters are of course its illumination. Please return the wadge with all your cuts of those things that would 'hurt Charlotte' and 'give George reason for divorcing me'".
Shaw replies: "Stella, Stella, this tomfooling is no sort of use; if you persist in it, you must give up the idea of making use of the letters once and for all...I will not, dear Stella, at my time of life, play the horse to your Lady Godiva." ...
In the same year Shaw's latest play 'Back to Methuselah', first opened in New York, and in London in 1924. What was unusual about the structure of this piece?
||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
It consists of a preface and a series of five separate plays.. "Back to Methuselah (A Metabiological Pentateuch)", with the preface ("An Infidel Half Century"). The series of five plays stretch in time from 4004 BC to 31,920 AD. It is really science fiction, and certainly Shaw's only effort in that genre. The biographer Michael Holroyd, describes the plays as "a masterpiece of wishful thinking".
Critics and audiences of the time found the piece interesting, but in many cases failed to follow Shaw's metaphors and morals. His view of Utopia is seen as too cold and uninviting. and his conceptions were on the whole quite foreign to American audiences. It is a complex and wordy piece, that has seen subsequent productions cutting the length dramatically, to still have relevance with contemporary audiences.
|The war years were difficult for Shaw and an anxious time for Mrs Campbell as her only son, Beo, was fighting at the front. In January of 1918 he was hit by an enemy shell and killed. She writes "My beloved Beo is killed - you have seen it in the papers. I feel that he is asleep and will wake and come to me, if I am quite strong and calm."
Shaw replied "...I can't be sympathetic, these things simply make me furious. I want to swear, I do swear, killed just because people are damn fools". The rest of the letter continued as a rant, and concluded "...Oh damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, DAMN. DAMN! And oh, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dearest.
Shaw's first play in some years, was completed in 1919. According to AC Ward, (the critic and biographer) the work argues that "cultured leisured Europe" was drifting toward destruction, and that "Those in a position to guide Europe to safety failed to learn their proper business of political navigation". What is this work?||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
Heartbreak House. "Heartbreak House" is set on the eve of World War 1. The house is a metaphor for a ship that requires capable navigation, not only from the captain and crew, but from the passengers also. There is discussion between characters about leaving the future to providence, rather than actually learning correct navigation. It is a complex play, that is rarely performed, but must be seen to appreciate the full genius. It opened in New York in 1920, and had its London premiere in the following year.
Mrs Campbell had hoped that Shaw would let her appear in the London production.
"This letter is in the form of a contract and I am afraid of it - Hoyti Wiborg writes from USA most enthusiastically about Heartbreak House - it would be a little unkind of you to leave me out of it, if it is done here."
Shaw replied "Belovedest: I can't put you into the cast of HH. ...and the rest of the cast, the manager and the backers would go on strike at once. What I dare not face, nobody with any sense is likely to take on. You must take a theatre, write your own plays, and train a company of orphans apprentices to act with you." She was now 56 and no longer had the box-office draw to make a play successful.
|Mrs Campbell left England in September 1914, to tour the USA with "Pygmalion" and did not return until 1916. Earlier in the same year she had married George Cornwallis-West, who had previously been married to Lady Randolph Churchill. It was a drastic year for Shaw, in which he published his 'Common Sense about the War'. It was not well-received and in some quarters thought 'treasonal propaganda'. Shaw's roots in the Fabian Society and much of their thinking were viewed with suspicion during the war years. What was the basic ideology of the Fabians?||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
They were dedicated to transforming Britain into a socialist state by systematic progressive legislation, and mass education.. The Fabian Society was founded by the economists Sidney and Beatrice Webb, together with Shaw and other middle-class British Socialist intellectuals. They believed in gradual change rather than revolution. They wanted social justice and were instrumental in the foundation of the Labour Party in Britain. They were also the founders of the London School of Economics, funded heavily by Shaw's wife Charlotte. The name is in honor of the Roman General Quintus Fabius Maximus. The Fabian strategy was to make well-planned strategic blows to weaken the enemy, rather than engaging in a full-scale battle.
In "Common Sense about the War", Shaw advocated people to lend their minds (perhaps prematurely) to "the problem of how to redraw the map of Europe and reform its political constituencies that this abominable and atrocious nuisance, a European war, shall not easily occur again." He went on to say "It is not enough for the Allies to win: we and not Russia must be the decisive factor in the victory, or Germany will not be fairly beaten ....We must have the best army in Europe". Time has proven that what he wrote was prescient and wise, but at the moment he became totally out of favor, and did not present a play during the war years.
|1912 saw a flourishing exchange of letters. Shaw was much involved in the rehearsals for a revival of "Caesar and Cleopatra" in Liverpool, with a new prologue. He described it as 'A twenty minute sermon, a master of Shavian rhetoric, received with stupefaction."
He had finished a new play and was anxious to read it to Mrs C. "O brave high-souled lady and cleanser and inspirer of my trampled spirit, I would the post were in hell, since it will not wait another minute"
Known also as 'the Christian Martyr Play", what was the true title of this work?||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
Androcles and the Lion.. The play is a retelling of the story of Androcles, a Cristian slave being led to the Colosseum for torture, whose life is saved by the mercy of a lion. Through the various characters in the play, Shaw discusses both modern and early Christianity, and the impact that Jesus' teachings had on the values and traditions of Rome. The play is often printed with a long preface by Shaw examining the Gospels. The preface is longer than the play itself.
During the reading to Mrs Campbell there must have been some sort of disagreement. Her letter comments "Oh dear me - its' too late to do anything but accept you - but when you were quite a little boy somebody ought to have said "hush" just once!" Shaw replies "... What was done to me in my childhood was nothing of an intentional kind. I wasn't spoiled and I wasn't helped. No direct ill treatment was added by anybody to the horrors of the world. Nobody forbade me to discover what I could of its wonders. I was taken - and took myself - for what I was: a disagreeable little beast."
|As early as 1897, Shaw had the first thoughts of a play that he would write, with a leading role especially molded for Mrs Campbell. "Caesar and Cleopatra has been driven clean out of my head by a play I want to write...." Shaw had mused, describing the part as that of a 'pretty slut'. In a letter to the actress Ellen Terry in 1897, Shaw referred to Mrs Campbell as "that rapscallionly flower girl". Which play eventually emerged from these original ideas?||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
Pygmalion. Shaw was busy with many other projects, thus "Pygmalion" and the role of Eliza took time to fully emerge. However, by 1912 it was almost ready to present. Shaw, in a note to Ellen Terry, describes his negotiations with Mrs Campbell for the part of Eliza. ... " Why then I went calmly to her house to discuss business with her, as hard as nails, and, as I am a living man, fell head over ears in love with her in thirty seconds". It was the role of Eliza that had somehow held Mrs Campbell in Shaw's mind; despite inexplicable prolonged gaps in their correspondence, he would have no-one else in the role.
An extended illness and near nervous breakdown had, at times, threatened her appearing in the play at all. Other renowned actresses read the script, but were afraid that the necessary cockney swearing in the part of Eliza would tarnish their reputations. Mrs Campbell finally opened in "Pygmalion" in London in April, 1914, to great acclaim, despite the fact that she was 49, and much too old for the part.
|By 1901, Shaw's relationship with Mrs Campbell has taken on a more personal and affectionate glow. "Long ago, when everyone was maudlin about your loveliness, I snapped my fingers and admired nothing but your deft fingers and toes. Now I admire you ENORMOUSLY". In the same letter he expresses extreme irritation with the Lord Chancellor for withdrawing the performance license of one of his plays, declaring it unsuitable for the public stage. Which of Shaw's plays was thus summarily dismissed?||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
Mrs. Warren's Profession. Mrs Warren had been a prostitute and had become a very wealthy brothel keeper. Much of the play consists of very frank discussions between her and her daughter about prostitution, a subject the Lord Chancellor found quite unsuitable for polite society. Shaw said that he wrote the play, "to draw attention to the truth that prostitution is caused, not by female depravity and male licentiousness, but simply by underpaying, undervaluing and overworking women so shamefully that the poorest of them are forced to resort to prostitution to keep body and soul together".
The play was first staged privately in London in 1902 and publicly in New York in 1905, when it was raided by the police and the theatre manager arrested. It did not finally appear in public performance in a London theatre until 1925. 2010 saw revivals of the play in both London and Washington, DC.
|A little known Bernard Shaw began a correspondence with the much-feted actress of the London stage, Mrs Patrick Campbell, in 1899,despite the fact that he had married Charlotte Payne-Townsend, a Dublin heiress, the year before. Their marriage must have been purely a meeting of minds, because Charlotte insisted upon celibacy before and after marriage.
Mrs Campbell was lauded not only for her thespian prowess, but also her great beauty and dryness of wit. Shaw had written to her originally to seek her interest in which of his classical plays, not yet completed? ||Bernard Shaw - Letters to an Actress
Caesar and Cleopatra. Shaw had followed Stella Campbell's career with great interest as a professional critic. Her swift rise to stardom in Pinero's 'The Second Mrs Tanqueray', encouraged Shaw to think of her as a potential leading lady in one of his future plays. They were certainly familiar with one another, moving in the same creative and intellectual milieu. In his first letter he speaks of his play 'Caesar and Cleopatra', entreating her to look at the first act, but she showed little interest.
Sometime later, in 1914, Shaw presented her with a volume of three plays, (including C&C). His inscription read: 'To silly Stella, who threw Caesar and Cleopatra into the waste paper basket, from G. Bernard Shaw.' (Shaw hated the first name George, and never used it himself)