The Six of Calais by George Bernard Shaw | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
The Six of Calais

The Six of Calais

by George Bernard Shaw
     
 
The most amusing thing about the first performance of this little
play was the exposure it elicited of the quaint illiteracy of our
modern London journalists. Their only notion of a king was a
pleasant and highly respectable gentleman in a bowler hat and
Victorian beard, shaking hands affably with a blushing football
team. To them a queen was a

Overview

The most amusing thing about the first performance of this little
play was the exposure it elicited of the quaint illiteracy of our
modern London journalists. Their only notion of a king was a
pleasant and highly respectable gentleman in a bowler hat and
Victorian beard, shaking hands affably with a blushing football
team. To them a queen was a dignified lady, also Victorian as to
her coiffure, graciously receiving bouquets from excessively washed
children in beautiful new clothes. Such were their mental pictures
of Great Edward's grandson and his queen Philippa. They were hurt,
shocked, scandalized at the spectacle of a medieval soldier monarch
publicly raging and cursing, crying and laughing, asserting his
authority with thrasonic ferocity and the next moment blubbering
like a child in his wife's lap or snarling like a savage dog at a
dauntless and defiant tradesman: in short behaving himself like an
unrestrained human being in a very trying situation instead of like
a modern constitutional monarch on parade keeping up an elaborate
fiction of living in a political vacuum and moving only when his
ministers pull his strings. Edward Plantagenet the Third had to
pull everybody else's strings and pull them pretty hard, his father
having been miserably killed for taking his job too lightly. But
the journalist critics knew nothing of this. A King Edward who did
not behave like the son of King Edward the Seventh seemed unnatural
and indecent to them, and they rent their garments accordingly.

They were perhaps puzzled by the fact that the play has no moral
whatever. Every year or so I hurl at them a long play full of
insidious propaganda, with a moral in every line. They never
discover what I am driving at: it is always too plainly and
domestically stated to be grasped by their subtle and far flung
minds; but they feel that I am driving at something: probably
something they had better not agree with if they value their
livelihoods. A play of mine in which I am not driving at anything
more than a playwright's direct business is as inconceivable by
them as a medieval king.

Now a playwright's direct business is simply to provide the theatre
with a play. When I write one with the additional attraction of
providing the twentieth century with an up-to-date religion or the
like, that luxury is thrown in gratuitously; and the play, simply
as a play, is not necessarily either the better or the worse for
it. What, then, is a play simply as a play?

Well, it is a lot of things. Life as we see it is so haphazard
that it is only by picking out its key situations and arranging
them in their significant order (which is never how they actually
occur) that it can be made intelligible. The highbrowed dramatic
poet wants to make it intelligible and sublime. The farce writer
wants to make it funny. The melodrama merchant wants to make it as
exciting as some people find the police news. The pornographer
wants to make it salacious. All interpreters of life in action,
noble or ignoble, find their instrument in the theatre; and all the
academic definitions of a play are variations of this basic
function.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940013696662
Publisher:
WDS Publishing
Publication date:
01/21/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
20 KB

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