2020 Annual Newsletter

International Shaw Society

Claud Lovat Fraser (1890–1921), A Caricature of George Bernard Shaw, 1912. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

 

Table of Contents

 

A Message from the ISS President and Vice President

Shaw in the Theatre in 2020: A Sampler

Shaw Meetings and Conferences in 2020

Upcoming Events and Calls for Papers

Shaw Scholarship

Shaw Online

A Message from President of the ISS Robert Gaines

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of Our Order,

 

            Before the holiday season fully recedes, it is my pleasure to convey warm wishes for your continued well-being and for your happiness into the new year and beyond. I am pleased to report the pandemic didn’t close all of our activities this year, although it curtailed them. Our 2020 R. F. Dietrich Scholarship winner is Paloma Pizarro Seijas, who is a Ph.D. student working under Gustavo A. Rodríguez Martín. Gustavo also reports our Shaw Conference originally scheduled for May 2020 will most likely be held in late May 2022.

 

          I want to congratulate our dedicated and talented Vice-President Jen Buckley, who pulled off a splendid Zoom Symposium last summer. She is developing the 2021 Symposium so you will be hearing from her about submitting abstracts soon. She is also due accolades for her editorship of “Shaw and the New Media,” the summer issue of SHAW: The Journal of Bernard Shaw Studies (40.1). While we are at it, let’s also congratulate Barry Houlihan and Ruth Hegarty

for their editorial work on SHAW 40.2 “Shaw and Legacy.”

 

            My deepest appreciation and heartiest thanks go to Mary Christian and Sharon Klassen for their service these past six years, Mary as Membership Secretary and Sharon as Recording Secretary. The Membership Secretary works tirelessly with the Treasurer and Webmaster to maintain an accurate list of members, and The Recording Secretary not only keeps the minutes from our annual business meetings but also conducts elections. Both Mary’s and Sharon’s contributions have far exceeded those job descriptions, and, on behalf of the whole membership, I sincerely thank you for your energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to the society.

 

        I also want to extend a warm welcome to our new Membership Secretary Brigitte Bogar and our new Recording Secretary Dorothy Hadfield, both of whom were elected last month for a three-year term, beginning New Year’s Day 2021.

 

A Message from Vice President of the ISS Jennifer Buckley

During 2020, my second year as ISS Vice President, my activities centered on coordinating and hosting two scholarly events: the two-part workshop on “Teaching Modern Drama” at the Modern Language Association Convention in Seattle and the annual Shaw Symposium, which shifted to the digital platform Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

The MLA Convention session was a lively, well-attended, and illuminating one. Three of the six panelists – all professors at research universities – regularly teach at least one Shaw play in their respective courses. I was delighted to see that GBS appears to be very much in the pedagogical mix.

 

Like many of you, I eagerly anticipated returning to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, for the 2020 Shaw Symposium. Working with Suzanne Merriam, Senior Manager for Education at the Shaw Festival, I had begun organizing the Symposium in February. By April, however, it was becoming apparent that we would not be able to meet in person, as COVID ravaged our communities and effectively closed the US-Canada border.

 

 

Fortunately, keynote speaker Kimberley Rampersad and all the scheduled panelists were ready and willing to deliver their talks over Zoom, the online meeting platform. Each of the Bryden Scholarship winners – Ajith Francis, Tanner Sebastian, James Armstrong, and Wan Jin – delivered an excellent talk from a different time zone. They and their fellow presenters spoke to a relatively large audience: over one hundred people registered for the free event, and the sessions held on July 23-25 drew fifty or more listeners apiece. The Symposium website at www.shawsymposium2020.weebly.com remains live and provides a list of the sessions. Those wishing to access video recordings of the keynote address, the panels, and the Zoom reading of Buoyant Billions, in a wonderful adaptation by SHAW general editor Christopher Wixson, may email me directly at jennifer-buckley@uiowa.edu.

 

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in person at Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2021 – as well as those who will be joining us via Zoom. The remote attendance experiment worked so well that we have decided to retain the web platform as one way of participating in the Symposium from afar. The pandemic is a disaster in every way, but it has forced artists, writers, and other culture workers to experiment with digital connections of all kids. I trust that we can and will draw valuable long-term lessons from this aspect of the pandemic – and hopefully, wisdom of every urgently necessary kind.   

 

DON’T FORGET THERE IS MORE TO PERUSE IN THE NEWSLETTER’S “IN MEMORIAM” SUPPLEMENT.

 

SHAW ON STAGE IN 2020: A SAMPLER

 

1)      SHAW IN NEW YORK

The Gingold Theatrical Group (GTG), headed by producer and director David Staller, continues to stage a concert reading of one Shaw play per month at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at West 95th Street, New York City). Organized around the theme of “Seeing Clearly Through Art,” the planned productions and events of the 2020 season, the GTG’s fifteenth, were disrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but regular readings of Shaw plays (including Arms and the ManCandidaMrs Warren’s ProfessionMisalliance, Caesar and Cleopatra, and Man and Supermanby members of the company were streamed online. See www.projectshaw.com.

 

2) SHAW AT AYOT ST LAWRENCE

The annual series of summer performances of Shaw plays at Shaw’s Corner, Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire remains on hiatus, the result of a decision made by the UK’s National Trust in 2019 after 27 seasons. Unfortunately, the planned stagings of The Man of Destiny and Annajanska the Bolshevik at the Palladian Church in Ayot St. Lawrence (4-5 July 2020) by Michael Friend Productions were postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For more information, go to www.mfp.org.uk. For a lovely photographic record of earlier performances at Shaw’s Corner, go to www.mfp.org.uk/Personal/Albumpersonal.htm.

 

3) SHAW AT NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 2020 season at the Shaw Festival, led by Artistic Director Tim Carroll, was canceled. Many of its scheduled productions will be remounted during the 2021 season, including Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple  (directed by Eda Holmes); Gypsy, book by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, music by Jule Styne and directed by Kimberley Rampersad; Sherlock Holmes and the Raven’s Curse, written by R. Hamilton Wright and directed by Craig Hall; Brandon Thomas’s Charley’s Aunt, directed by Tim Carroll; Trouble in Mind, written by Alice Childress and directed by Philip Akin; Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms, directed by Selma Dimitrijevic; and Flush, based upon the novella by Virginia Woolf and adapted/directed by Tim Carroll. For further information about the Festival’s 2021 season, write to Shaw Festival, Post Office Box 774, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, L0S 1J0; or call 1-800-511-SHAW [7429] or 905-468-2153; or go to www.shawfest.com.                                                                                                                                                

 

4) SHAW AROUND THE GLOBE

While theatres around the world have been shuttered due to the pandemic, you can receive notices of productions of Shaw’s plays when they return by subscribing to Google Alerts at http://www.google.com/alerts.                                                                      

 

Kay Li regularly and generously continues to update production resources. For links to some Shaw plays performed in the USA, Canada, and the UK, go to http://libra.apps01.yorku.ca and look (to the far right) at the column headed International Shaw Calendar. Click on play titles for production details.

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Time to Renew Your ISS Membership for 2021:

https://www.shawsociety.org/ISSMembership.htm

 

 

SHAW MEETINGS AND PANELS IN 2020

 

1)    Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the “Shaw In Europe” conference was not held 27-29 May 2020 at the University of Extremadura in Cáceres, Spain. Tentative plans for convening in May 2022 are in the works. 

 

2)    Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 44th Annual Comparative Drama Conference (scheduled to have been convened 4-6 April 2020 at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, was rescheduled for 14-16 October 2021.

 

3)      Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 17th annual Summer Shaw Symposium migrated online (23-25 July 2020) with four virtual sessions of panel presentations, a keynote with Kimberley Rampersad (Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival), and a concert reading of a new adaptation of Buoyant Billions by Christopher Wixson. Co-sponsored by The Shaw Festival and the International Shaw Society, the Symposium drew participants from Japan, China, Australia, Europe, England, Ireland, India, Canada, and the United States. Details about the speakers and abstracts for the papers delivered can be found at the Symposium website: https://shawsymposium2020.weebly.com.

 

4)      The Shaw Society (UK) was founded in 1941 and its members meet monthly in the John Thaw Room at The Actors Centre, London, for talks, lectures, and play readings. For more information and a sample issue of the society’s publication The Shavian, see www.shawsociety.org.uk/. You can also follow them on Twitter @ShawSoc. Information about their affiliated theatre company, SHAW2020, can be found via www.shawsociety.org.uk/shaw2020.html. On 26 September, their Sharing Shaw series presented a live online performance of three Shaw playlets: “The Girl with the Golden Voice” (1935), “Beauty’s Duty” (1913), and “Skit for the Tiptaft Revue for the Fabian Summer School 1917.” On 2 November, the company commemorated the 70th anniversary of Shaw’s death with a performance of Darlington, 1950 by Anne Wright and a Helix Production of Words of Love & Loss for a Platform Spellbinder by Helen Tierney. Check out their “Talking Shaw” online series at www.youtube.com/channel/UCaflt_U7S8rOEzEpmHLfq0w as well as the National Trust podcasts featuring members of The Shaw Society at https://podcasts.google.com/?q=national%20trust%20bernard%20shaw. The Shaw Society continues to make available various GBS resources (especially for scholars and teachers) at https://shaw-institute.com/ or accessed via the Shaw Archive at https://sites.google.com/view/shawarchive/home.     

 

5)      As a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the spring meeting of the Bernard Shaw Society of Japan was moved to Tokyo in September, and its annual Shaw Seminar in Atami was canceled. The BSSJ looks forward to returning to their regular schedule in 2021.                                                                                                                           TOP

 

 

UPCOMING EVENTS & CALLS FOR PAPERS

 

1)      THE 44th ANNUAL COMPARATIVE DRAMA CONFERENCE is scheduled to be held at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, from 14 to 16 October 2021. Please go to http://comparativedramaconference.org/ for details. Abstract proposals for the Shaw sessions may be sent to Ellen Dolgin at ellen.dolgin@dc.edu until 3 April 2021.       TOP 

2)      THE 18th ANNUAL SHAW SYMPOSIUM, co-sponsored by the ISS and The Shaw Festival, is scheduled to take place from July 17-18, 2021 at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. More details will be forthcoming. Access all information for submitting paper proposals and applications for Bryden Scholarships and ISS Travel Grants at https://www.shawsociety.org/ISSGrants&Scholarships.htm; while papers on anything and everything Shaw are always welcome, talks that focus on the Shaw play the Festival is producing this year (The Devil’s Disciple) are especially desirable.                                                                                                                         

ttp://homepages.gac.edu/~cpb/GBS.GIF

Time to Renew Your ISS Membership for 2021:

https://www.shawsociety.org/ISSMembership.htm

 

SHAW SCHOLARSHIP:

BOOKS ABOUT SHAW

This year, Bernard Dukore’s Bernard Shaw and the Censors, Mary Christian’s Marriage and Late-Victorian Dramatists, and Audrey McNamara/Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel’s co-edited Bernard Shaw and the Making of Modern Ireland appeared in Palgrave Macmillan’s series, “Bernard Shaw and His Contemporaries.” These and the other thirteen titles can be accessed at: https://www.palgrave.com/us/series/14785,

 

The books in the Palgrave Macmillan “Bernard Shaw and His Contemporaries” series strive to present the best and most current research on Shaw and his theatre and literary contemporaries and to further our understanding of Shaw and those who worked with him or in reaction against him. Queries and manuscripts may be sent to series editors Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel (nocrsc@aol.com) and Peter Gahan (pgahan@me.com). Check out the series blog at: https://bernardshaw.home.blog/.

 

Remember as well that ISS members receive a 20% discount on the Shaw series titles; the discount code is ISSGBC and can be entered at the checkout stage in the ‘basket’ when ordering.

 

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WORKS BY SHAW

Contracted to appear in 2021 will be eight volumes in the Shaw series, overseen by Brad Kent, for Oxford World's Classics:

Mrs Warren’s Profession, Candida, You Never Can Tell, ed. Sos Eltis

Arms and the Man, The Devil’s Disciple, Caesar and Cleopatra, ed. Lawrence Switzky
Man and Superman, John Bull’s Other Island, Major Barbara, ed. Brad Kent
Pygmalion, Heartbreak House, Saint Joan, ed. Brad Kent
The Apple Cart, On the Rocks, Too True to Be Good, The Millionairess, ed. Matthew Yde
Playlets (Shorter Plays), ed. James Moran

Major Cultural Essays, ed. David Kornhaber
Major Political Writings, ed. Elizabeth Carolyn Miller                                

 

SHAW: THE JOURNAL OF BERNARD SHAW STUDIES  

 

SHAW’s fortieth anniversary was meaningfully commemorated by a spring issue on “Shaw and New Media” (40.1), guest edited by Jennifer Buckley, and a winter issue centered on the idea of “Shaw and Legacy” (40.2), guest edited by Barry Houlihan and Ruth Hegarty (Royal Irish Academy). On Shaw Day (2 November), Barry and Ruth organized an event that featured some of the issue’s contributors speaking, including Adrian Paterson, Aileen Ruane, Colin Murphy, Nicky Grene and Soudabeh Ananisarab. Put on by The Moore Institute, NUI Galway in conjunction with the Royal Irish Academy, a video recording of the two panel sessions is available (along with some other links) on the 'Judging Shaw' webpage: https://www.ria.ie/news/publications-judging-shaw/did-you-miss-our-event-shaw-and-legacy.

Looking ahead, SHAW 41.1 (appearing June 2021) will be a general topics issue, and SHAW 41.2 (appearing December 2021) is entitled “Bernard Shaw, Journalist” and will be guest-edited by Peter Gahan and Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel. Further ahead, exploring the topic of “Shaw and Translation,” SHAW 42.1 will be published. in June 2022, guest-edited by Miguel Cisneros Perales.

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            Request for Submissions

SHAW 43.1 (June 2023) “Shaw and Adaptation”

Shaw is perhaps one of the most widely produced modern dramatists even seventy years after his death. He was always committed to the profuse dissemination of his work, and his success is due not simply to the power of his words but also to the adaptation of his works for other media and genres, especially film and music. Shaw eagerly pursued cinematic adaptations of his plays with director Gabriel Pascal as compelling opportunities for promoting his ideas more widely. Together, they produced film adaptations of dramas like Caesar and Cleopatra, Major Barbara, Androcles and the Lion, and, in particular, the 1938 Oscar-winning Pygmalion. However, despite the popularity of musical theater and the operatic subtext in many of his plays, Shaw consistently rejected and discouraged musical adaptations, concerned it would distract, undermine, and water down his message. Nonetheless, for many, their first encounter with GBS has been via that most famous of adaptations: My Fair Lady (1956).

SHAW 43.1 is dedicated to the topic of “Shaw and Adaptation.” Articles focusing on specific plays by Shaw and their flexibility - or lack thereof - to adaptation across genres and media, as well as on Shaw’s own theories and practice of adaptation, are encouraged. In addition, submissions are welcomed that focus upon the ways in which his plays are being newly adapted for the 21st century stage.

Possible topics could include (but are not limited to):

 

*Shaw's revision of his own work / "refinishings" of the work of others, such as:

 

*Revisions/adaptations of Shaw's plays (including on the contemporary, post-copyright stage)

 

*Interviews with adapters – including directors, playwrights, composers, and librettists

 

*Adaptations of Shaw’s plays into musical theatre

 

*Film and Television Adaptations of Shaw’s Plays

 

*Shaw adapted as a character, a philosophical principle, or a repertoire of stylistic tendencies, as in:

 

Essays 20-25 pages in length are due 1 November 2022. For matters of style, please refer to recent SHAW volumes and the attached guidelines. Please direct inquiries to guest editor Dr. Brigitte Bogar at brigitte.bogar@gmail.com.   

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SHAW 42.2 (December 2022) and SHAW 43.2 (December 2023) will each include articles on general topics, as well as book reviews, the Checklist of Shaviana, Notices, and ISS information. Prospective essays for SHAW should be submitted directly to:

http://www.psupress.org/journals/jnls_shaw.html

Please include an abstract and, for matters of style, refer to recent SHAW volumes. For all other information about SHAW or to suggest other issue themes, contact Christopher Wixson at cmwixson@eiu.edu.                                                                                                           TOP

Come curl up with SHAW

 

circa 1905:  Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950) relaxing in his sitting room.  (Photo by Ernest H. Mills/Getty Images) 

 

 

***ISS Members receive a discount and can subscribe when they renew their membership at https://www.shawsociety.org/ISSMembership.htm***

 

 

SHAW ONLINE

SHAW BEHIND THE CAMERA

A few years ago, the London School of Economics digitized its collection of some 20,000 photographs and negatives taken by Shaw, an inveterate photographer. To explore this amazing visual resource, go to http://archives.lse.ac.uk/Advanced.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog. In the field marked “Ref No” type in “Shaw Photographs*” (don’t forget the asterisk); then click “Search.” This will give you access to over 15,000 photographs, which you can view by clicking on the links. To read what Shaw himself has to say about one of his favorite pastimes, a good place to begin is Bernard Shaw on Photography: Essays and Photographs (1989), edited by Bill Jay and Margaret Moore.

 

ONLINE SHAW REFERENCE WORKS

A Chronology of Works By and About Bernard Shaw is regularly updated and can be accessed at http://www.shawsociety.org/Chronology-of-Works.htm.

 

Charles Carpenter’s A Descriptive Chronology of His Plays, Theatrical Career, and Dramatic Theories can be found at: http://www.shawsociety.org/ShawChron.htm

A.M. Gibbs’s Chronology of Shaw’s Life can be reached at http://www.shawsociety.org/Shaw-Chronology.htm.

 

SHAW’S WORKS ONLINE

Since 2014, Gustavo A. Rodríguez Martín (Universidad de Extremadura, Spain) has been collaborating with a computer programmer to develop an interface that will enable anyone to search Gustavo’s database without infringing on copyright restrictions (as most of Shaw’s works came out of copyright in 2020 but not in the US). To learn more about (and see samples of) this ground-breaking enterprise, go to  www.shawsociety.org/SEARCH.htm.

Scholars are welcome to submit concordance queries for Shaw's plays and novels—as well as any/all of the books in this Table of Contents. Results will be retrieved as an Excel table. 

 

SHAW UPDATES

As part of his duties as editor of the “Continuing Checklist of Shaviana” for SHAW, the industrious Gustavo A. Rodríguez Martín regularly mines online repositories in search of the latest pieces of Shaw scholarship. Some of these have been sent to ISS members in regular updates, including previews of items to be listed in the annual bibliography and myriad online occurrences of Shaw and Shaw-related events and references.  

 

SHAW AT AYOT ST LAWRENCE
           Produced by Martin Wright, a visual tour of Shaw’s Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, is available at www.gamelabuk.com/shaws/. Click play to hear Stanley Weintraub, the doyen of Shaw studies, comment at various stops along the way. Our thanks to Stan and Rodelle Weintraub for providing this vivid and unique glimpse into Shaw’s Hertfordshire home!

 

SHAW AND HIS WORKS ON FILM

In 2016, Gustavo A. Rodríguez Martín launched a Shaw YouTube Channel at

www.youtube.com/channel/UCxGpZjHhix37VN-zFfX6psg/playlists

“A compendium of the best videos of and about Bernard Shaw and his milieu” is divided into the following playlists: GBS in Performance, GBS Footage, Lectures and Talks, Shaw in Film, Historical Context, Documentaries, and Miscellany. The GBS Channel brings together documentaries about Shaw, film footage of Shaw himself, film versions of his plays, and much more. Users are encouraged to suggest/submit videos that may fit any of the playlists.         TOP     

SHAW’S GEOGRAPHIES

Gustavo A. Rodríguez Martín, with the assistance of former ISS membership secretary Ann Stewart, and Evelyn Ellis of the Shaw Society (UK), has created the GeoShaw map (http://www.shawsociety.org/GeoShawIntro.htm), a collaborative project that attempts to provide a geographical account of Shaw’s life via map markers of his travels, domiciles, meeting halls, and favorite vegetarian restaurants, to mention only a few examples of what’s available. Evelyn’s photographs of “Shaw’s Places Then and Now” can be seen at www.shawquotations.blogspot.com.es/2015/10/geoshaw-shaws-places-then-and-now.html.

SHAW DIGTIZED

The Sagittarius-ORION Literature Digitizing Project at http://libra.apps01.yorku.ca is constantly expanding its open access section to make it a useful tool for Shaw scholars and fans, including Reviews of Productions of Shaw’s Plays Around the World and the Shaw Bookshelf.

A key attraction is the Virtual Tour of Shaviana at  http://libra.apps01.yorku.ca/virtual-tour-of-shaviana/. Notable displays also include: 1) “Who is Bernard Shaw” written by Stanley and Rodelle Weintraub; 2) a calendar of productions of Shaw’s plays around the world; 3) theatre productions with links to reviews and videos of performances around the world; 4) Footsteps of Bernard Shaw, with videos showing Shaw’s world tour; 5) links to Al Carpenter’s Shaw Bibliography; 6) virtual tours of the late Isidor Saslav’s amazing Shaw collections; 7) links to updated Shaw holiday shopping; 8) links to numerous electronic Shaw texts; and 9) other classroom resources on specific plays. The restricted access platform continues to feature classroom resources, such as annotated full texts, study guides, reference materials written by Shaw scholars, an annotated bibliography, and concordances and a search engine.  

 

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TIME TO RENEW YOUR ANNUAL ISS MEMBERSHIP FOR 2021!!

https://www.shawsociety.org/ISSMembership.htm

It has long been the custom in the theater to refer to people who contribute to the enterprise beyond the going price as “angels.” While it may be true, as John Tanner says, that “In Heaven an angel is nobody in particular” (Maxims for Revolutionists: Greatness), we are clearly still on a planet where “angelic behavior” of this sort deserves notice. Yes, we appreciate that everyone contributes what they can afford, and we are thankful to everyone who pays the annual membership fee and/or orders journals, but “Shaw Bizness” needs the exceptional contribution as well as the standard in order to pursue its goals of encouraging the young with travel grants and of making Shaw’s works and the study of Shaw available to as many as possible.  So here we wish to pay special notice to those who have made it possible for the ISS to “go beyond.” 

 

Facebook & Twitter: Follow the ISS on Twitter and receive ISS updates on Facebook (click “Like” on the International Shaw Society page; the more “Likes,” the more notice everywhere). For assistance, write to Jean Reynolds at ballroom16@aol.com.

 

Google Alerts: To sign up for your own Google Alerts on Shaw, go to www.google.com/alerts.

ISS Homepage: There are countless pages about Shaw’s life and works on or linked from shawsociety.org, and many continuously updated by ISS Webmaster R.F. Dietrich.

 

ISS AWARD WINNER FOR 2020

 

This year, Sharon Klassen was the recipient of the prestigious R.F. Dietrich Research Scholarship for Shaw Studies and shared the fruits of her research at the summer Symposium. Named in honor of the Founding President of the International Shaw Society, the award supports research into any aspect of the life and work of Bernard Shaw by a graduate student or early-career scholar.

 

In Memoriam

 

 

 

Eric Bentley

(1916-2020)

 

Richard Dietrich called him an “ISS Methuselah [to whom] we all owe a great deal for his 1947 book Bernard Shaw (revised 1957) that Shaw himself said was the best book ever written on him (of course over a hundred have been written since!).” He was a featured speaker at the very first ISS Shaw Conference in Sarasota, Florida in 2004.

 

BARBARA SMOKER

(1923-2020)

 

This terrific GBS Christmas card was created years ago by activist and author Barbara Smoker, former Vice-President and founding member of the Shaw Society (1941) and honorary member of the International Shaw Society, who passed away in April.

 

Shavian to the core, Barbara was committed to radicalism and humanism throughout her entire life, dynamically and articulately campaigning in print and on the street against nuclear weapons, war, and discrimination and on behalf of human rights, freedom of speech, and social reform.

 

Her fascinating autobiography, My Godforsaken Life: Memoir of a Maverick, was published in 2018, and a Shaw Society interview with her can be accessed at:

https://shaw-institute.com/welcome/barbarasmoker/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Remembrance of Don B. Wilmeth (1939-2020)

By Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel

 

Actor and director, scholar and editor, Brown University Emeritus Professor

Don Wilmeth (1939-2020)

 

While most memorials to Don will no doubt recount his numerous accolades, scores and scores of books (authored or edited), his work with the American Society for Theatre Research, and as the ISS’ first vice president, I feel compelled to a different tack. While Don worked with many students who became scholars or theatre professionals, I may be the only Ph.D. student in Theatre at Brown University who eventually turned to Shaw. Formulating a study on early modern Irish theatre, I was fortunate to catch the last career years of Brown’s giants in Irish Studies, David Krause and L. Perry Curtis, along with some key theatre faculty, such as George Houston Bass, Spencer Golub, John Emigh, and Tori Haring-Smith. The two standout courses I took, among many, were Tori’s Feminist Theatre seminar and Don’s Shaw course.

 

When my program commenced, George Bass was its director. From the first, he said that, if I was to succeed, ‘we must have Don’ onboard. After George’s unexpected early death within the second year and Spencer Golub quickly stepping into directing the study, Don next agreed to be the internal reader. Immediately, he recommended his Shaw course, and, during its first meeting, he handed me an article on John Bull’s Other Island by his former student, Norma Jenkes, one of the play’s then, and now, leading authorities. I was to undertake a presentation on why the Abbey Theatre rejected the play in 1904. Once into the work, I was struck by the differences between Shaw’s Nora character and Synge’s from In the Shadow of the Glen. Those differences, and similarities, informed my dissertation, though I stubbornly moved toward Synge and away from Shaw.

 

By the time I completed the degree, Don had emerged as an important mentor, and we grew as friends in the years that followed. A time came when it was unusual for a week to pass without email exchanges, often long discussions. We shared an interest in theatre memorabilia, which helped. In fall 2013, knowing I had a paper arguing that Synge was influenced by John Bull’s Other Island in writing The Playboy of the Western World, Don talked me into presenting at the first ISS conference, 2004 in Sarasota. He also suggested that, while in Sarasota, we could slip out one afternoon and see the Ringling Circus Museum and Ringling Estate/Gallery. Don said, from his love of circuses, that the latter “was the next best thing to running away with the circus.”

 

Thinking that it would be my only foray into Shaw Studies, Don introduced me to numerous folks, Dick Dietrich, Leonard Conolly, and many of his other Shaw friends. Highlights were tagging along for two dinners with Bernard Dukore, some of whose work I knew fairly well. While taking seats for a panel, Don pointed out that one of the speakers was originally from Dublin, Peter Gahan. When I finally presented my paper, which was too long for the 20 minutes and speed reading was unhelpful, Peter sat right before the podium. Later that day, we chatted at length about what the paper was about, and, of course, at that time I had no idea how valuable that eventual friendship would become professionally.

 

Before long, I was researching James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army, where I stumbled across Shaw’s meeting Connolly at a London rally in November 1913 during the Dublin Lockout. That led me to presenting at the ISS conference Don hosted at Brown in 2006, the paper from which eventually became Shaw, Synge, Connolly, and Socialist Provocation. Don nearly attended the 2009 conference in Washington, but circumstances predicted otherwise. We congregated in Chicago for the 2010 ISS Symposium, which included a memorable walk through the surviving building from the Chicago World’s Fair. By then, I had the above book with Dick’s Shaw series at University Press of Florida, which, when published, bore its dedication to Don, a great friend and mentor.

 

When Michel Pharand suggested that I look into starting a new Shaw series after UPF ended theirs, I asked Don if Palgrave Macmillan might be interested. Don’s Theatre and Performance Series had been running over fifteen years, and he knew the publisher well. Don was exceedingly helpful in assisting Peter and me with pitching the series, which was obviously accepted. Later, Don gifted boxes of his Shaw books to me, with many including letters from their authors tipped in. These range from Michael Holroyd to Sally Peters, with the latter within her Shaw biography on its publication—a treasure.

 

At the expense of self-indulgence, whatever the value of my Shaw work, it would not have existed without Don’s nudges and suggestions. He is deeply missed. The future, he once told me, was Shaw.

 

 

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2020 Director of Publications and Newsletter Editor: Christopher Wixson                                    TOP

Access newsletters from previous years at: https://www.shawsociety.org/ISS-Newsletters.htm