Friday, June 7, 2024

Bernard Shaw's Ireland

Today was the last day of the International Shaw Society's conference on Bernard Shaw's Ireland, held by University College Dublin.

On Wednesday, Nelson O'Ceallaigh Ritschel delivered a keynote on Shaw and the 1920s London-Irish Theatre. He noted that the 1919 revival of Arms and the Man began a post-war renewal of interest in Shaw's work on the London stage. This continued throughout the decade with frequent revivals, and in 1929 the Court Theatre premiered a new Shaw play, The Apple Cart.

Next, David Clare chaired a panel on Shaw and Socialism that included Marie Hewelt discussing Pygmalion and Eamon Jordan talking about Widowers' Houses. Audrey McNamara chaired a second session that included Lisa Robertson on John Bull's Other Island and Kumar Parag on Candida. We also had a performance of the discarded defense Shaw wrote for the Irish rebel Roger Casement, and in the evening Paddy O'Keefe performed his one-man show Shaw Invites You.

Thursday morning, Lauretta Lenker delivered a plenary on Shaw and Virginia Woolf, who both coincidentally lived at different times at 29 Fitzroy Square in London. She spoke about Woolf's novel Between the Acts and Shaw's drama Saint Joan. That play was featured prominently in the next talks given by Doborah Payne and Ellen Dolgin, as did Shaw's Geneva. After we broke for lunch, Dorothy Hadfield delivered a second plenary on Charlotte Shaw, and then we heard from Brad Kent and Loic Wright.

I presented my own paper on John Bull's Other Island on Friday morning, accompanied by Mary Christian who discussed The Dark Lady of the Sonnets and Julie Sparks who spoke on Shaw's sequel to A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen. Tony Roche then delivered a plenary on how Dion Boucicault influenced Shaw, who in turn influenced Brian Friel's play Translations. In the afternoon, both Vishnu Patel and Tae-Yong Eom discussed post-humanism in Back to Methuselah.

The venue for the conference was the Museum of Literature in Ireland, which had some great displays. Tomorrow, I look forward to seeing some of Dublin and then catching a play at the famed Gate Theatre.