- Shaw Productions in Ireland, 1900–2009
In July 2006, the month in which Bernard Shaw would have been 150 if he had achieved the condition of his own long-livers in Back to Methuselah, there were protests in the Irish press about the lack of recognition given to the anniversary.1 At the time, it seemed as though there would not be a single production of a Shaw play in Ireland in the sesquicentennial year, though the Lyric Theatre in Belfast did stage a revival of Arms and the Man in September. This was in notable contrast to his centenary in 1956, when over the year no fewer than nine of his plays were mounted for a total of 145 performances. The numbers of Shaw productions in Ireland have tailed off in the last half-century, but he has by no means disappeared from the Irish theater. The more popular plays—Heartbreak House, Pygmalion, Arms and the Man—are fairly regularly revived at the Gate Theatre; the Abbey has produced The Doctor’s Dilemma, Saint Joan (defying memories of the long-famous performance of Siobhan McKenna), and a lively version of Mrs Warren’s Profession. The listing below reveals that, although there have been relative peaks and troughs in the record of Irish stagings of Shaw, he has retained his presence, if sometimes an unacknowledged presence, over the 108 years since his first play was produced in Dublin.
“Shaw in the Irish Theater: An Unacknowledged Presence” was in fact the title that I gave to an essay I published in SHAW 14: Shaw and the Last Hundred Years (1992) and the present catalogue is by way of being a follow-up to that essay. In the research for the essay, originally given as a paper at the 1992 Blacksburg conference organized by Bernie Dukore, I compiled a list of all Irish Shaw productions I had been able to find up to that date. In this I had the formidable assistance of the great Shavian Dan H. Laurence, who supplied me with the details of such productions drawn from the records of Shaw’s royalty returns in the LSE Library. I verified these myself and extended them beyond the point where the LSE records [End Page 236] ceased. Although my 1992 paper drew upon this material, it was never published as such, and for this special issue of SHAW, Shaw and the Irish Literary Tradition, it seemed worthwhile to make available an updated, corrected, and enlarged version of the catalogue.
The updating, correction, and enlargement has been the work of my collaborator Deirdre McFeely. She tabulated my original entries and cross-checked them against the relevant theater archives and newspaper advertisements. For the period since 1992, we made use of the data supplied to us by Jeremy Crow of the Society of Authors and we gratefully acknowledge his help. The listing below is not comprehensive. Apart from shows that we may simply have missed, we decided as a matter of policy to exclude amateur productions, of which there are many, as well as radio and television broadcast versions. We have made one exception to this principle with the inclusion of Shaw stagings by the Northern Drama League; for a number of years it produced such a large number of Shaw plays that the phenomenon seemed worth recording. We have provided the year, the title of the play, the date of the first night for each run of a production (with the number of performances in brackets), the title of the company and director (when that is known), and in some cases the actors involved. Cast lists are not readily available for many productions, but we thought it useful to record these when they could be found in newspaper advertisements or theater programs. For some scholar someday, such information may be of use.
The record assembled here indicates that this prophet/playwright has been honored in his own country, if not always by public acclamation and the academic study that is his due, then in the way that playwrights most value, by sustained and repeated productions.
Nicholas Grene is Professor of English Literature at...