Zany puppet show farewell to George Bernard Shaw

Shakes versus Shav, from SHAW2020.

Shakes versus Shav, from SHAW2020. - Credit: Shaw Society

A zany ‘puppet show’ with Pythonesque touches is the curtain-raiser for the second programme in The Shaw Society’s mini-season marking the 70th anniversary of George Bernard Shaw’s death and his works coming out of copyright.

Shakes versus Shav, from SHAW2020.

Shakes versus Shav, from SHAW2020. - Credit: Shaw Society

Farewell GBS culminates on Sunday, December 13 with two more free ‘Zoom theatre’ presentations – Shakes versus Shav, from SHAW2020, and Shaw’s First and Last Thoughts, from Michael Friend Productions.

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 observed a two-minute silence.

Bernard Shaw puppet.

Bernard Shaw puppet. - Credit: Shaw Society

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Two original shows, Darlington, 1950 and Words of Love & Loss for a Platform Spellbinder, celebrating Bernard Shaw, kicked off the Farewell GBS programme on the 70th anniversary of his death – November 2.

Now to close the season, as the end of the year approaches and as Shaw’s works come out of copyright, The Shaw Society present two more free shows online.

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The first in this double-bill, Shakes versus Shav (1949), is directed by Joe Sargent, a Welwyn Garden City Campus West panto regular.

It comes from SHAW2020, a theatre company whose mission is to engage more diverse audiences with performance and exploration of Bernard Shaw’s works.

Shaw group photo.

Shaw group photo. - Credit: Shaw Society

This skit, written by Shaw as a puppet show, sees a Punch & Judy-style spat between William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw.

The two puppets are still preserved. ‘Shakes’ is in Stratford-upon-Avon, and ‘Shav’ is in the collection of Shaw’s Corner, his home for more than 40 years, now a National Trust property.

Jonas Cemm, artistic director of SHAW2020, who plays Shav, said: “It’s Shakes versus Shav as you’ve never seen it before – and in the pantomime season too!”

This will be followed by Shaw’s First and Last Thoughts, with adapted scenes from an early Shaw novel, The Irrational Knot (1880), and the final scene from Why She Would Not, written just before Shaw’s 94th birthday in July 1950.

This presentation is from Michael Friend, a Vice-President of The Shaw Society and resident theatre director at Shaw’s Corner for 25 years.

Michael Friend said: “Two pieces with similar themes, spanning 70 years of Shaw’s writing – and bringing the show to an end with the final words of his final play. A fitting finale to Farewell GBS.”

Links to join Farewell GBS on Sunday, December 13 can be found on The Shaw Society website

The first part of the series, Darlington, 1950 and Words of Love and Loss, is now available free of charge on the Shaw Institute website

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