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Bernard Shaw in Brazil

The Reception of Theatrical Productions, 1927–2013

Rosalie Rahal Haddad

In 1927, the first production of Pygmalion was staged in Brazil. At the time, over 65 per cent of the adult Brazilian population was illiterate, which makes it all the more surprising that directors and producers dared to stage such a controversial playwright – a writer who had often been rejected by the more sophisticated theatregoer in England.
This book analyses the reception of almost a century of Brazilian productions of Pygmalion, My Fair Lady, Arms and the Man, Candida and Mrs Warren’s Profession, setting that analysis in the context of the political, economic and cultural climate at the time of each production. What emerges is a faithful portrait of a country where theatre and theatre criticism are precariously established, and the theatregoer with no knowledge of English cannot be certain that the translation or adaptation they are watching bears anything more than a passing resemblance to the original. Nonetheless, Brazil has also witnessed a number of fine productions, presented by highly skilled actors and directors and reviewed by well-informed and articulate critics.
As well as supplying fascinating detail on the wide range of Shaw productions staged in Brazil over the last ninety years, this volume also generates valuable insights into the complexities of twentieth-century Brazilian society.
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Chapter FourCandida


← 92 | 93 →CHAPTER FOUR


Any discussion of Candida must be prefaced by the fundamental recognition of Ibsen’s influence on Shaw, both as a novelist and later on as a playwright. As we shall see, Candida absorbed Ibsen’s concepts in so far as Shaw rejects idealistic notions of marriage moulded by conventional morality.

Ever since 1891, when Shaw published The Quintessence of Ibsenism, the importance of the Norwegian playwright’s work as far as Shaw was concerned has been beyond doubt. What some critics have questioned, however, is the extent to which Shaw misrepresents Ibsen. At one extreme, Huntley Carter, writing in 1912, declared that Ibsen had been ‘butchered to make a Fabian holiday’. But there are also those who argue that Shaw’s exposition of Ibsen’s rationale is not only highly interesting in itself but an excellent guide to Shaw’s own plays. Just like Ibsen, Shaw wished to free himself from conventional formulas, and, in his third novel, Love among the Artists (1881), he reveals social concerns which are central to Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House (1879), thus demonstrating the extent to which Ibsen and himself shared an iconoclastic tendency.

In The Quintessence of Ibsenism, Shaw writes a critique of Victorian assumptions regarding women and marriage – the primary subject matter of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House – moving onto a commentary on the various ways Ibsen’s plays challenge society’s moral principles. Shaw explains the Norwegian playwright’s philosophy using a tri-partite division of mankind into philistine,...

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