Farewell GBS: Shavian women celebrate with free Zoom theatre event

PUBLISHED: 15:13 28 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:22 28 October 2020

Jonas Cemm as Shaw and Laura Fitzpatrick as Ellen Pollock in Darlington, 1950 - part of the Farewell GBS free Zoom theatre event

Jonas Cemm as Shaw and Laura Fitzpatrick as Ellen Pollock in Darlington, 1950 - part of the Farewell GBS free Zoom theatre event

Shaw2020

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.

Anne Wright'’s Darlington, 1950 is based on her full-length play Affectionately, Ellen. Ever, GBSAnne Wright'’s Darlington, 1950 is based on her full-length play Affectionately, Ellen. Ever, GBS

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.

Some of the 16 woman featured in Words of Love and Loss for a Platform Spellbinder - Alice Laden, housekeeper at Shaw’'s Corner, secretary Blanche Patch, suffragette Mary Leigh and Ellen Terry.Some of the 16 woman featured in Words of Love and Loss for a Platform Spellbinder - Alice Laden, housekeeper at Shaw’'s Corner, secretary Blanche Patch, suffragette Mary Leigh and Ellen Terry.

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.

Some of the 16 woman featured in Words of Love and Loss for a Platform Spellbinder - Virginia Woolf, May Morris, Mrs Patrick Campbell, and Bernard Shaw's wife Charlotte Payne-TownshendSome of the 16 woman featured in Words of Love and Loss for a Platform Spellbinder - Virginia Woolf, May Morris, Mrs Patrick Campbell, and Bernard Shaw's wife Charlotte Payne-Townshend

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.

Helix Productions presents Words of Love and Loss for a Platform Spellbinder as part of Farewell GBSHelix Productions presents Words of Love and Loss for a Platform Spellbinder as part of Farewell GBS

“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.

Jonas Cemm plays Bernard Shaw in Darlington, 1950 as part of Farewell GBSJonas Cemm plays Bernard Shaw in Darlington, 1950 as part of Farewell GBS

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!”

Farewell GBS can be watched on Zoom on the 70th anniversary of George Bernard Shaw's death. Farewell GBS can be watched on Zoom on the 70th anniversary of George Bernard Shaw's death.

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.

This way to George Bernard Shaw's home Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan DaviesThis way to George Bernard Shaw's home Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan Davies

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

George Bernard Shaw's home Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan DaviesGeorge Bernard Shaw's home Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan Davies

George Bernard Shaw's home Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan DaviesGeorge Bernard Shaw's home Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan Davies


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Herts Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Herts Advertiser