Farewell GBS: Shavian women celebrate with free Zoom theatre event
PUBLISHED: 15:13 28 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:22 28 October 2020
A highly original show celebrating playwright George Bernard Shaw will be available to view free online on the 70th anniversary of his death on Monday, November 2.
Playwright George Bernard Shaw died at his home Shaw’s Corner in Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, 70 years ago, in his 95th year.
One of the most famous men in the world at the time, the news instantly went round the globe.
Lights were dimmed at theatres on Broadway, and theatres in Australia closed.
An original show celebrating Bernard Shaw will be made available to view free online on the 70th anniversary of his death – on Monday, November 2.
Farewell GBS presents two specially devised pieces, both by women writers, and both featuring current Shaw actresses playing many women, famous and unknown, to whom Shaw was important in their lives.
The curtain-raiser for Farewell GBS is Anne Wright’s Darlington, 1950, based on her full-length play Affectionately, Ellen. Ever, GBS which premiered last year at the Actors Centre.
Ellen Pollock, one of Shaw’s favourite actresses, announced his death from the stage during a tour of one of his plays, The Devil’s Disciple.
Wright draws on Pollock’s personal archive, including the many letters she received from Shaw.
Ellen is played by experienced Shaw actress Laura Fitzpatrick.
Shaw is played by Jonas Cemm, artistic director of SHAW2020, the company he founded to promote Shaw’s plays as they come out of copyright at the end of this year.
Farewell GBS is an online production in The Shaw Society’s new Sharing Shaw series.
Jonas Cemm, who also directs the Welwyn Garden City Campus West pantomime, said: “We are delighted to be part of The Shaw Society’s extended Shavian family as we celebrate the 70th anniversary.
“Zoom theatre has really taken off and we have jumped right in.
“The first instalment of Sharing Shaw, where we presented three rare Shaw skits, was a huge success with an international audience, and the thrill of live performance over the internet really kept our actors on their toes!”
Helen Tierney’s Words of Love and Loss for a Platform Spellbinder also forms part of Farewell GBS.
It also draws on letters written by women to Bernard Shaw, combining these in a collage of tributes in the form of a wake, to the accompaniment of Irish songs on harp and accordion.
Directed by Alexis Leighton, Tierney’s partner in Helix Productions, Words of Love and Loss presents eight experienced Shaw actresses performing 16 roles, including such famous women as Ellen Terry as well as unknown fans of Shaw.
Helen Tierney explained: “The artist who painted GBS as The Platform Spellbinder fell deeply in love with her subject, as did many others.
“Shaw’s death in 1950 was mourned by millions of people around the world, many of them women.
“Raise a ‘parting glass’ with us to the irreplaceable GBS alongside 16 women whose lives he touched. Writer, artist, lover, suffragette, actress, pen pal, housekeeper, secretary, fan... wife. A most entertaining outburst of Shavian grief!”
The online show on Monday, November 2 is the first of a double bill of Farewell GBS.
It will be followed on Sunday, December 6 by an original production by Michael Friend Productions, First and Last Thoughts, with excerpts from Shaw’s earliest writing and his last plays.
The Shaw Society was founded on Bernard Shaw’s 85th birthday – July 26, 1941.
The charity’s purpose is to promote his plays and other writings, bringing together academics, theatre professionals, and Shaw fans.
Links to join Farewell GBS on Monday, November 2 and Sunday, December 6 can be found on the Shaw Society website www.shawsociety.org.uk
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