George Bernard Shaw & Christopher Newton: Explorations of Shavian Theatre

Keith Garebian

George Bernard Shaw & Christopher Newton: Explorations of Shavian Theatre

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Christopher Newton has placed the Shaw Festival firmly on the map of world-class theatre. His best Shavian productions are revolutionary re-interpretations of plays that are normally treated as Edwardian period pieces or didactic entertainments. In this first full-length study of Newton, critic Keith Garebian shows how the pairing of Shaw and Newton, that once seemed not bloody likely, has become one of the most exciting enterprises in Canadian theatre, with startling results.

George Bernard Shaw & Christopher Newton begins with a biographical section that sketches some of the most perasive influences on Newton’s artistic sensibility, and suggests what had particularly inspired his ever-growing fascination with Shaw. Successive chapters document Newton’s concept of Shaw as a surrealist, and contain detailed descriptions of productions at Niagara- on -the- Lake from 1980-1990. Among other things, readers are shown a Caesar and Cleopatra set in a Shadow Box; Heartbreak House as a dream-play of the night and anarchy; Major Barbara as a double quest; You Never Can Tell as part comic romance, part farcical metaphor; the metatheatrical suggestions of Man and Superman; and a Misalliance as a metaphor of a convulsive new age. As Garebian shows, Newton’s approach for all its paradoxes, succeeds in making George Bernard Shaw our dynamic contemporary.

Keith Garebian is an award winning author whose books include William Hutt: A Theatre Portrait and A Well-Bred Muse: Selected Theatre Writings, which were both landmark books in Canadian theatre studies. Noted for his rigorous and passionate commitment to the idea of theatre as an art form, Garebian writes with well-honed with and insight of George Bernard Shaw and Christopher Newton. He lives in Toronto and is the author of 11 books.