Thursday, July 15, 2021

A Certain Club

Tomorrow, the International Shaw Society begins its virtual conference. Attendance is free, but you do have to register.

I will be speaking on Saturday about links between Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple and Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms. Both of them portray potentially adulterous relationships, but in radically different ways.

As part of my preparation for the talk, I went to the Players Club, which houses the Hampden-Booth Theatre Library. archives. They had a great deal of information, including a mammoth scrapbook dedicated to the 1950 Broadway revival of The Devil's Disciple starring Maurice Evans.

The collection also has correspondence from Charles Rann Kennedy to Walter Hampden. Kennedy played Anthony Anderson in the 1907 London production of The Devil's Disciple, though he's probably better known today as a playwright. His first big success didn't come until the following year with The Servant in the House. He went on to write such plays as The Winter Feast, The Necessary Evil, and The Rib of Man. Walter Hampden is probably best known for playing the Archdeacon in the 1939 film version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Going into the research at the Players Club, I wasn't quite sure what I would find, but the archivist was wonderfully helpful, and it's fun just to be able to go into the club. There's so much history there, and now that I know how friendly they are to researchers, I'll definitely be back in the future.

This evening, I also got to see some live theatre. Greenhouse Ensemble is doing an outdoor production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in Central Park. I got there a few minutes late, so I missed the beginning, but the show's a great deal of fun. If you have a chance, make sure to see it!