Wednesday, November 16, 2016

7 December: Arms & The Man

Thank you to Sheila for suggesting this play which she assures us has her and Keith chuckling away every time they read it!  So I'm looking forward to it!

The opening words of this 1894 play, are Arma virumque cano (Of arms and the man I sing), and, dealing with the subjects of the futility of war and the hypocrisies of human nature, it was one of Shaw's first commercial successes. 

Shaw was called onto stage after the curtain, where he received enthusiastic applause. Amidst the cheers, one audience member booed. Shaw replied, in characteristic fashion, "My dear fellow, I quite agree with you, but what are we two against so many?"

The Plot
I don't want to give it all away! But it is helpful to know that the play takes place during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War

Raina Petkoff: Heroine.  Young Bulgarian woman engaged to Sergius Saranoff.
Sergius Saranoff: Bulgarian war hero
Captain Bluntschli:  Swiss mercenary in the Serbian army
Catherine Petkoff:  Raina's mother
Major Petkoff:  Raina's father
Louka:  Petkoff servant girl, engaged to Nicola
Nicola: Petkoff man servant

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)

Bernard Shaw, as he preferred to be called,  was an Anglo-Irish playwright, critic and polemicist whose influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including many major works (eg Pygmalion and Saint Joan).
Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic as well as a member of the Fabian Society.
Influenced by Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. 
Since Shaw's death, scholarly and critical opinion has varied about his works, but he has regularly been rated as second only to Shakespeare among English-language dramatists; analysts recognise his extensive influence on generations of playwrights. The word "Shavian" has entered the language as encapsulating Shaw's ideas and his means of expressing them.

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