(Feingold’s article appeared on Theatermania, 10/28.)
While we’ve been going through the most frazzling and divisive election in our history, I’ve found myself thinking, again and again, about the playwright whose works I love most and don’t see nearly often enough: George Bernard Shaw. As of November 2, he will have been dead 66 years, and productions of his work, which used to be fairly frequent in New York, have dwindled to a paucity.
David Staller’s Project Shaw, now a decade old, continues its trek through GBS’s collected works in monthly one-night readings. In full productions, off-Broadway’s Irish Rep and the Pearl Theater Company have kept Shaw on their rosters, most often recently in collaboration with Staller’s Gingold Theatrical Group. On Broadway, the Roundabout has intermittently done its bit for Shaw’s more familiar titles, most recently with Mrs. Warren’s Profession — unfortunately a misfire — in 2010.
That doesn’t add up to much. These days, I suspect that most New York theatergoers and theatermakers know Shaw, if at all, only as provider of the source material for My Fair Lady. To those of us who love him passionately, it hurts to imagine the man widely viewed as the second-greatest English-language playwright reduced to a musical-theater footnote — a bearded Irish equivalent of the Trapp Family Singers or Gypsy Rose Lee’s childhood.