Mrs. Patrick Campbell, one of the first female hyphenates of the theatre, must be smiling down on the Shaw Festival today. The 2012 line-up is a celebration of the theatrical heroine, in all her guises – femme fatale, ingenue, comedienne and drama queen. Perhaps, more importantly, women as playwrights are recognized. I can’t wait for April when the new season launches.
His Girl Friday: My first introduction to Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur was watching Rosalind Russell after school in the film of the same name. The film was based on the pair’s play The Front Page. The Shaw’s version, according to Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, is a “mash-up [that] keeps the grit and bite of The Front Page while brilliantly recalibrating the comedy to hit new contemporary targets.” I’ll translate that to mean that the politics within should now be palatable to a post-modern woman.
Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler is arguably the finest female role in 20th century theatre. What better company than the Shaw’s to mount it for the 21st century. The Festival has always been as much about ideas as emotion, inescapable when George Bernard Shaw is your muse.
The Millionairess is one of two of GBS’s plays in the 2012 season. “I am the most interesting woman in England.” He might have put the words in his heroine’s mouth, but Shaw was writing about himself, I am willing to bet.
Githa Sowerby and Carole Frechette are the distaff playwrights. I have not seen either of their works: Sowerby’s A Man and Some Women or John Murrell’s translation of Frechette’s Helen’s Necklace. But I plan to!
Girl’s night out is taking on a whole new meaning for me in Niagara-on-the-Lake.