Bernard Shaw

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Plays by Bernard Shaw

Arms and the Man

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Although Arms and the Man derives its title from a translation of Virgil’s phrase ‘arma virumque’ in the Aeneid, it does not reflect the subject or mood of the classical epic poem about mythic heroes waging war. Rather, the play is a light-hearted mixture of domestic and romantic comedy. Additionally, although the Serbo-Bulgarian war of 1885 provides a backdrop for the play, and military action is often discussed amongst the characters, it is never enacted.

The play predominantly deals with class conflict and twisted love affairs, detailing the illicit romance between Raina Petkoff and fugitive Swiss officer Captain Bluntschli, and the equally salacious relationship between Raina’s fiancé, Major Sergius Saranoff, and housemaid Louka. Despite the secrecy of these flirtations, there exist two very obvious tokens of the couples’ respective affection onstage – Saranoff’s coat that Raina gives to Bluntschli, and the bruise that Saranoff leaves on Louka’s arm. As such, George Bernard Shaw renders his somewhat commonplace plot line more interesting with a satirical self-awareness, imbuing the text with obvious theatricality, whimsy, and even burlesque. Rather than imparting a sense of realism, Shaw’s comedy is illusory, fictional, and overtly performative.

Arms and the Man debuted on the London stage in 1894.

audio Arms and the Man

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

It's 1885, and Raina's bourgeois Bulgarian family is caught up in the heady patriotism of the war with Serbia. The beautiful, headstrong Raina eagerly awaits her fiancé's victorious return from battle - but instead meets a soldier who seeks asylum in her bedroom. This is one soldier who definitely prefers romance and chocolate to fear and bullets. War may be raging on the battlefield, but it's the battle of the sexes that heats up this extraordinary comedy and offers very different notions of love and war.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Al Espinosa, Jeremy Sisto, Teri Garr, Anne Heche, Micahel Winters, Jason Kravits and Sarah Rafferty.

Featuring: Al Espinosa, Jeremy Sisto, Teri Garr, Anne Heche, Micahel Winters, Jason Kravits, Sarah Rafferty

audio Candida

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Shaw’s warm and witty play challenged conventional wisdom about relationships between the sexes. A beautiful wife must choose between the two men who love her. A Court Theatre Company co-production.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Tom Amandes, Christopher Cartmill, Rebecca MacLean, David New, Nicholas Rudall and JoBeth Williams.

Featuring: Tom Amandes, Christopher Cartmill, Rebecca MacLean, David New, Nicholas Rudall, JoBeth Williams

audio The Devil's Disciple

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Shaw stands “do or die” melodrama on its head in this tale set during the American Revolution. A young hero who disdains heroism makes the ultimate sacrifice for honor and country.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jennifer Albright, Pat Carroll, Stanton Davis, Bruce Davison, Richard Dix, Richard Dreyfuss, David Bryon Jackson, Lisa Pelikan, Derek Smith and Jon Tindle.

Featuring: Jennifer Albright, Pat Carroll, Stanton Davis, Bruce Davison, Richard Dix, Richard Dreyfuss, David Bryon Jackson, Lisa Pelikan, Derek Smith, Jon Tindle

video The Devil’s Disciple (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

The Revolutionary War serves as the backdrop for this brilliant satire penned by Bernard Shaw. Self-professed ‘devil's disciple’ Dick Dudgeon (Mike Gwilym) -- who long ago scorned the piety and traditional values of his mother (Elizabeth Spriggs) -- returns home when his father dies. But after the British army arrives on the scene to lynch the village minister (Patrick Stewart), Dick finds that he can't escape his moral underpinnings.

Credits:

Director: David Jones; Producer: Shaun Sutton; Lighting: Howard King; Playwright: Bernard Shaw; Composer: Stephen Oliver; Designer: Tony Burrough; Costume Designer: Odette Barrow; Script Editor: Stuart Griffiths; Cast: John Cater: Uncle Titus Dudgeon; June Ellis: Mrs Titus Dudgeon; Patrick Godfrey: Lawyer Hawkins; Mike Gwilym: Richard Dudgeon; Timothy Kightley: Chaplain; Larry Lamb: Sergeant; Cheryl Maiker: Essie; Patrick Newell: Uncle William Dudgeon; Ian Richardson: General Burgoyne; Freda Rodgers: Mrs William Dudgeon; Elizabeth Spriggs: Mrs Dudgeon; Patrick Stewart: Anthony Anderson; Graham Turner: Christy Dudgeon; Benjamin Whitrow: Major Swindon; Susan Wooldridge: Judith Anderson.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

audio The Doctor's Dilemma

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The blowhards, the know-it-alls, the scrupulous and the impecunious are all targets for Shaw’s incisive wit in his classic satire of the medical profession. A well-respected physician is forced to choose whom he shall save: a bumbling friend or the ne’er-do-well husband of the woman he loves.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jane Carr, Gregory Cooke, Kenneth Danziger, Roy Dotrice, Martin Jarvis, Jennifer Dundas Lowe, Simon Templeman, Douglas Weston and Paxton Whitehead.

Includes a conversation with Dr. Neil Wenger, the Director of the Healthcare Ethics Center at the University of California-Los Angeles

The Doctor’s Dilemma is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

Featuring: Jane Carr, Gregory Cooke, Kenneth Danziger, Roy Dotrice, Martin Jarvis, Jennifer Dundas Lowe, Simon Templeman, Douglas Weston, Paxton Whitehead

Major Barbara

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Major Barbara is a play about power, religion and capital: Shaw’s story of a conversion contest between an arms manufacturer and a Salvation Army Major is a provocative dramatization of the relationship between money and morality. As with Mrs Warren’s Profession and Pygmalion, the play exposes the material reality behind the political and moral philosophies of the time.

Andrew Undershaft is an immensely powerful and wealthy arms manufacturer, owner of a company with immense pan-European power. His wife, the imperious Lady Britomart, was outraged by his decision to disinherit his own children and separated from him many years ago, but now finds she must ask Andrew for money to support their three children. Andrew’s consequent visit to his estranged family introduces him to his energetic daughter Barbara, who has recently been made a major in the Salvation Army, and her Greek professor fiancé, Adolphus. Their ideological conflict leads them into a conversion contest: Andrew will visit the Salvation Army shelter, and Barbara will visit the munitions factory.

Major Barbara is a challenging comedy of ideals which subverts ideals and moral expectations, following a three act structure intended to advance understanding by stages as per Shaw’s dialectic method. It was first produced in 1905 at the Royal Court, London, to great acclaim, despite one newspaper criticising Shaw for his ‘withering attack’ on the Salvation Army, a claim that Shaw disputed in his later Preface to the play; nevertheless, it was to be one of the series of his plays produced at the Royal Court (along with John Bull’s Other Island (1904) and Man and Superman, amongst others) that would help establish Shaw as a respected playwright. Its discussion of the morality of armaments was apt at its time of writing, when Britain was allied with Japan in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5; ongoing warfare sealed Major Barbara’s relevance throughout the twentieth century, and it was made into a 1941 film with Rex Harrison and Wendy Hiller as Adolphus and Barbara.

audio Major Barbara

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Barbara is a major in the Salvation Army - but she’s also the daughter of Andrew Undershaft, a man who’s made millions from the sale of weapons of war. The real battle, however, rages between between the devilish father and his idealistic daughter as they answer the question: does salvation come through faith or finance? This sparkling comedy traverses family relations, religion, ethics and politics - as only Shaw, the master dramatist, can!

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: JB Blanc as Bill Walker/Dialect Coach Kate Burton as Lady Britomart Matthew Gaydos as Snobby Price/Bilton Brian George as Morrison/Peter Shirley Hamish Linklater as Stephen Undershaft Henri Lubatti as Adolphus Cusins Tony Palermo as Sound Effects Artist Kirsten Potter as Barbara Undershaft Roger Rees as Andrew Undershaft Russell Soder as Charles Lomax Amelia White as Rummy Mitchens/Mrs. Baines Missy Yager as Sarah Undershaft Sarah Zimmerman as Jenny Hill Directed by Dakin Matthews. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles in December, 2007.

Featuring: J.B. Blanc, Kate Burton, Matthew Gaydos, Brian George, Hamish Linklater, Henri Lubatti, Kirsten Potter, Roger Rees, Russell Soder, Amelia White, Missy Yager, Sarah Zimmerman

audio Misalliance

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Taking place on a single day in May 1909, a self-made millionaire and his family invite their future nobleman-in-law for a visit to their estate in Surrey, England. In this delightfully clever play, issues of gender, class, politics and family are all targets for Shaw’s keen wit.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Tom Beyer, Joy Gregory, Roger Rees, Serena Scott Thomas, W. Morgan Sheppard, Eric Stoltz, Victoria Tennant, Tegan West and Douglas Weston.

Featuring: Tom Beyer, Joy Gregory, Roger Rees, Serena Scott Thomas, W. Morgan Sheppard, Eric Stoltz, Victoria Tennant, Tegan West, Douglas Weston

audio Mrs. Warren's Profession

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Modern parallels abound in the plight of Cambridge-educated mathematics wiz Vivie Warren, who discovers that her comfortable upbringing was financed in unspeakable ways. Shaw pits a clever heroine against a memorable gallery of rogues in this superbly intelligent -- and still shocking -- comedy, banned for eight years from the English stage.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Paul Gutrecht, Kaitlin Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Basil Langton, Dakin Matthews and Robin Sachs.

Featuring: Paul Gutrecht, Kaitlin Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Basil Langton, Dakin Matthews, Robin Sachs

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was an Irish playwright and critic, whose plays are famous for their wit, eloquence and interest in provocative ideas. Inspired mainly by the social dramas of Ibsen, he began to write plays of his own while working as an arts critic, though they were not performed until later. His play Mrs Warren's Profession was banned by the Lord Chamberlain until 1925. Unable to find commercial audiences for his plays, Shaw wrote extensive Prefaces for them, elaborating on the social and moral themes that they explore. Subsequent plays include Major Barbara, Pygmalion, Heartbreak House, Back to Methuselah, and Saint Joan. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925, and an Academy Award in 1938, for the screenplay of the film adaptation of Pygmalion, a film which would later form the basis for My Fair Lady.