Shaw's Plays in Performance
PUBLISHER: Pennsylvania State University Press
Also available at Amazon.com
Shaw's plays are nothing but talk. That complaint has echoed down the years, even receiving wry support from Shaw himself. Though critics has sometimes suggested that Shaw's "Theatre of Ideas" was thought-provoking but dramatically weak, the production record stands in refutation of this claim, for audiences throughout this century have responded to Shaw the Playwright by attending performances of his plays in numbers unrivaled by any of his contemporaries. A variety of perspectives demonstrate Shaw's performance qualities.
Production records are used by two of the authors to demonstrate Shaw's remarkable ability to fill theaters, one providing a Shavian history of the Malvern Festival (where even his "talky" late plays were shown to be stageworthy), and the other detailing the phenomenal stage history of Man and Superman. Other authors focus on the visual and auditory aspects of the plays, examining how sets and props and onstage movement underscore and extend what is being said, and how meanings are conveyed not just by Shaw's words, but by the way an actor says those words--the emphases, the silences, and the interplay of words and sound effects.
Two little-known pieces by Shaw included in this volume reveal his concern, as both playwright and director, with the effective utilization of staging elements. this theme is continued in essays examining his direction of The Devil's Disciple and Pygmalion.
PUBLICATION DATE: 10/1/1990
CATEGORY: Drama, Literary Criticism