Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts

Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts (1912)

Play: Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts (Park Theatre, NY, & Liberty Theatre, NY, & Wallack's Theatre, NY)
Published/Performed: 1912 (performed Oct 12, 1914 - Dec 12, 1914)

Author: George Bernard Shaw
Born: Jul 26, 1856 Dublin, Ireland
Passed: Nov 2, 1950 Hertfordshire, England

Film: My Fair Lady
Released: 1964

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About the Play Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts:

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 ? 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.

He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name), respectively.[1] Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because he had no desire for public honours, but accepted it at his wife's behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of Swedish books into English.

Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts (1912) is the basis for the musical play and film, My Fair Lady. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech. It is a sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system of the day and a comment on women's independence, packaged as a romantic comedy.

In ancient Greek mythology, Pygmalion was the creator of a sculpture which came to life and was a popular subject for Victorian era English playwrights, including one of Shaw's influences, W. S. Gilbert, who wrote a successful play based on the story in 1871, called Pygmalion and Galatea. Shaw also would have been familiar with the burlesque version, Galatea, or Pygmalion Reversed. Shaw's play has been adapted numerous times, most notably as the musical My Fair Lady and the film of that name.

The play Pygmalion premiered at the Hofburg Theatre in Vienna on October 16, 1913, in a German translation by Shaw's Viennese literary agent and acolyte, Siegfried Trebitsch.[12][13] Its first New York production opened March 24, 1914 at the German-language Irving Place Theatre.[14] It opened in London April 11, 1914 at Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree's His Majesty's Theatre and starred Mrs. Campbell as Eliza and Tree as Higgins. Shaw directed the actors through tempestuous rehearsals often punctuated by at least one of the three storming out of the theater in a rage.

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Featured Cast (Names and Roles) of the Film My Fair Lady: