Cost: $20 standard, $18 senior, $10 student
Please join us for a reception with the cast and crew in the lower lobby immediately our opening night performance.
A witty philosophical debate disguised as a romantic comedy
Considered to be one of Shaw’s comedic masterpieces, Man and Superman involves the simple premise of a man determined not to marry his ward, who is equally determined to land him.
“The intellectual parrying is great entertainment.” —The Austin Chronicle
George Bernard Shaw was a proud Provocateur and Subversive. My most beloved Shaw quote is: "I have not achieved success, but I have provoked uproar, and the result was so agreeable, I am resolved to try again!" He was a proven success, but loved ruffling feathers, and exposing lies. The Socialist firebrand of his age, a founder of Britain’s Labor Party, Shaw delighted in"savagely attacking social hypocrisy" [The Nobel Foundation 1925] demanding change, blasting the glacial pace of governments or administrations. He abhorred the British upper class, titles and manners. He championed the self-educated, the working man, and equal rights. I suspect he would enjoy my Feminist vision for his play.
My starting point for this production was: What if Ann were not an "empty-headed, feather-brained little woman"? What if she were involved in the politics of her time? By immersing the audience in the political turmoil, ‘radical’ ideas of Socialism and Women’s Suffrage of the early 1900’s, we can find parallels in today’s America. We often ‘project’ our judgments on to others, believing ‘sound bites’ or Instagram posts rather than seeking the true story; exactly as the Ramsdens ‘project’ their scorching moral judgments onto Violet in Act 1, believing they already ‘know’ the truth, trying to get rid of her quickly – appalled she is even in their house! Shaw exposed this sort of degrading social ‘projection’ to shame those who practice such ruthless behavior.
In Britain, women were prohibited from owning property, businesses, signing contracts, or managing their own money (which is why, when Ann’s father dies, a guardian must be appointed even though she’s an adult). Women had to pay taxes, but could not take part in politics, nor could they vote. The pairing of Jack and Ann must be a debate of equals, but how is that possible when women have no rights? When the dominant culture in any society refuses to extend equal rights to other members, the oppressed will ALWAYS find ways to survive. Ann and Violet are experts at using the rules of society to get what they need; they are pragmatic, and understand how to get things done. Interestingly, both have chosen idealists: Hector accepts losing his inheritance for marrying Violet – a rather romantic, impractical notion; Ann sees in Jack a fighter for the rights of the powerless, the voiceless; a man willing to expose unfairness and demand change. The attraction is inevitable.
Searing, fraudulent propaganda has always been part of the political landscape. We see a similar ‘demonization’ of women in politics today, as we begin an election cycle. The true measure of our character is how we respond, how we choose to take a stand: It took five years, 2 union reps (Thank you UFF-UCF, Claudia and Barbara!), and an attorney (Thank you, Peter!) to get Man & Superman into the season. One can only wonder why, in this day and age, there would be such opposition? Must have ruffled some feathers, I guess. Clearly, Shaw would approve. Enjoy!
— Lani Harris, Director
George Bernard Shaw was born on July 26, 1856 in Dublin, Ireland. Shaw’s corn merchant father was an alcoholic and had little money to spend on George’s education. George went to local schools but was largely self-taught. Shaw began work when he was fifteen as a junior clerk in a Dublin estate agency at a salary of £18 a year. He later recalled that he worked in “a stuffy little den counting another man’s money”. His mother moved to London and remarried, and Shaw joined her in March, 1876.
Shaw hoped to become a writer and during the next seven years wrote five unsuccessful novels. He was more successful with his journalism and contributed to Pall Mall Gazette. In 1882, Shaw heard Henry George lecture on land nationalization. This had a profound effect on Shaw and helped to develop his ideas on socialism.
Shaw gave lectures about socialism on street corners and helped distribute political literature. Shaw took part in a demonstration in London that resulted in the Bloody Sunday Riot. By 1886, Shaw tended to concentrate his efforts on the work that he did with the Fabian Society. The Fabian Society rejected the revolutionary socialism of the Social Democratic Federation. As Shaw pointed out, “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”
Shaw supported women’s rights, and in 1891 wrote, “Unless woman repudiates her womanliness, her duty to her husband, to her children, to society, to the law, and to everyone but herself, she cannot emancipate herself. It is false to say that woman is now directly the slave of man: she is the immediate slave of duty; and as man’s path to freedom is strewn with the wreckage of the duties and ideals he has trampled on, so must hers be.”
George Bernard Shaw wrote several plays that dealt with issues such as poverty and women’s rights and implied that socialism could help solve the problems created by capitalism. It was during this period Shaw wrote Man and Superman (1902), John Bull’s Other Island (1904) and Major Barbara (1905). In 1912, Shaw began work on his play Pygmalion. World War I began as Pygmalion was nearing its hundredth sell-out performance, and that gave Shaw an excuse to wind down the production.
Shaw’s status as a playwright continued to grow after the war. Plays such as Heartbreak House (1919), Back to Methuselah (1921), Saint Joan (1923), The Apple Cart (1929) and Too True to be Good (1932) were favorably received by the critics and in 1925 he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Shaw continued to write books and pamphlets on political and social issues. This included The Crime of Imprisonment (1922) and Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism (1928).
During the Blitz, Shaw, then in his mid eighties, moved out of London. Shaw was a strong opponent of Britain’s involvement in WWII, which he described “fundamentally not merely maniacal but nonsensical”. He wrote very little but he did find the energy to produce Everybody’s Political What’s What (1944). George Bernard Shaw had a fall on September 10, 1950 while pruning trees. He was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that he had fractured his hip. Bedridden, he developed kidney failure and died on November 2nd.
— Scott Dittman, Dramaturg
*UCF student. All cast members are students.
†UCF faculty and staff.