|Why She Would Not|
|Written by||George Bernard Shaw|
|Subject||A woman's life is modernised against her inclination|
Why She Would Not: A Little Comedy (1950) is the last play written by George Bernard Shaw, comprising five short scenes. The play may or may not have been completed at his death. It was published six years later.
George Bernard Shaw, known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Shaw's neighbour and illustrator Clare Winsten said that Shaw had described his initial idea for the plot to her, saying: "I am writing a play in which there is an old man who has a housekeeper who is so houseproud that she gradually eliminates everything that is personal in the house until he feels a perfect stranger there."He also discussed the play with Nancy Astor, whose friend Judy Musters typed up Shaw's manuscript. According to Michael Holroyd he wrote it in one week in July 1950, shortly before his 94th birthday. He died four months later.
Sir Michael de Courcy Fraser Holroyd is an English biographer.
In the final version, the genders of the characters are reversed, with a male figure appearing in the "housekeeper" role.
A tramp called Henry Bossborn rescues a young woman from a robber in the woods. He learns that she is Serafina White, the granddaughter of an elderly businessman who runs the largest timber merchants in the country. As a reward, he asks for a job in the business — but on his own terms. She agrees. Soon he has transformed the business and increased its profits. He has also started his own property-development company. He knocks down the old mansion in which Miss White grew up and replaces it with a new super-efficient modernistic home. He expects to marry her and move into the new house. She is unhappy with the changes and refuses to marry him. He explains that he is serving the "life force" which demands renewal, but she is unwilling to fully accept this, and agrees only to friendship, not marriage.
The play was published in The London Magazine in August, 1956. Because the play ends abruptly, it has been argued that Shaw intended to add one more scene.However after the publication Dan H. Laurence examined the surviving manuscripts. In his essay "The Facts about Why She Would Not" (1956), he argued that the play was completed, noting that the shorthand version of the manuscript ends with the words "End of Scene 5 and of the play". Holroyd says it was written quickly, and that the figure of Bossborn, who moves from a tramp to a form of superman, is a version of Shaw himself, including his inability to overcome his personal isolation. In 2009 David Staller, founder of the Gingold Theatrical Group commissioned five different final scenes from five writers: Israel Horovitz, Michael Feingold, David Cote, Jeremy McCarter and Robert Simonson.
The London Magazine is a publication of arts, literature and miscellaneous interests. Its history ranges across nearly three centuries and several reincarnations, publishing writers including William Wordsworth, William S. Burroughs and John Keats.
David Staller is an American Theatre Director and Actor. He is the founding Artistic Director of the Off-Broadway Theatre Company, Gingold Theatrical Group. As an actor, Staller appeared on Broadway and Off-Broadway in over 50 plays. His performance in Gas Light earned him a Distinguished Performer citation from the Drama League.
Gingold Theatrical Group, often abbreviated as GTG, is a New York-based non-profit theatre company. It was founded in 2006 by American actor and director David Staller. Its mission is to present works that carry the humanitarian values of writer and critic George Bernard Shaw. It presents several series, including the annual festival Shaw New York, and the monthly series of staged readings, Project Shaw. Through this series, GTG became the first theatre group to present all 65 of George Bernard Shaw's plays.
Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Viscountess Astor, CH was an American-born British politician and the first female Member of Parliament (MP) to take her seat.
The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God is a book of short stories written by George Bernard Shaw, published in London by Constable and Company in 1932. The title story is a satirical allegory relating the experiences of an African black girl, freshly converted to Christianity, who takes literally the biblical injunction to "Seek and you shall find me." and attempts to seek out and actually speak to God.
Saint Joan is a play by George Bernard Shaw about 15th century French military figure Joan of Arc. Premiering in 1923, three years after her canonization by the Roman Catholic Church, the play dramatises what is known of her life based on the substantial records of her trial. Shaw studied the transcripts and decided that the concerned people acted in good faith according to their beliefs. He wrote in his preface to the play:
There are no villains in the piece. Crime, like disease, is not interesting: it is something to be done away with by general consent, and that is all [there is] about it. It is what men do at their best, with good intentions, and what normal men and women find that they must and will do in spite of their intentions, that really concern us.
Pygmalion is a play by George Bernard Shaw, named after a Greek mythological figure. It was first presented on stage to the public in 1913.
Major Sir John Jacob Astor VII, was an English politician and sportsman. He was a member of the prominent Astor family.
Heartbreak House: A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes is a play written by George Bernard Shaw, first published in 1919 and first played at the Garrick Theatre in November 1920. According to A. C. Ward, the work argues that "cultured, leisured Europe" was drifting toward destruction, and that "Those in a position to guide Europe to safety failed to learn their proper business of political navigation". The "Russian manner" of the subtitle refers to the style of Anton Chekhov, which Shaw adapts.
Robert Gould "Bobbie" Shaw III was an American-born English socialite. He was the only son of Nancy Witcher Langhorne and Robert Gould Shaw II, a landowner and socialite. After his parents' divorce in 1903, he moved to England with his mother, who later married Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor.
Charlotte Frances Payne-Townshend was an Irish political activist in Britain. She was a member of the Fabian Society and was dedicated to the struggle for women's rights. She married the playwright George Bernard Shaw.
Why Marry? is a 1917 play written by American playwright Jesse Lynch Williams. It won the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama, in 1918.
In Good King Charles's Golden Days is a play by George Bernard Shaw, subtitled A True History that Never Happened.
Village Wooing, A Comedietta for Two Voices is a play by George Bernard Shaw, written in 1933 and first performed in 1934. It has only two characters, hence the subtitle "a comedietta for two voices". The first scene takes place aboard a liner, the second in a village shop. The characters are known only as "A" and "Z".
Passion, Poison, and Petrifaction is a short play by Bernard Shaw, subtitled The Fatal Gazogene: a Brief Tragedy for Barns and Booths. It is a comic mock-melodrama, written to raise funds for charity. It has been revived occasionally, in tandem with other short works by Shaw or by other playwrights.
The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles: A Vision of Judgement is a 1934 play by George Bernard Shaw. The play is a satirical allegory about an attempt to create a utopian society on a Polynesian island that has recently emerged from the sea.
Geneva, a Fancied Page of History in Three Acts (1938) is a topical play by George Bernard Shaw. It describes a summit meeting designed to contain the increasingly dangerous behaviour of three dictators, Herr Battler, Signor Bombardone, and General Flanco.
The Music Cure, a Piece of Utter Nonsense (1913) is a short comedy sketch by George Bernard Shaw, satirising therapeutic fads of the era and the Marconi scandal of 1912.
The Glimpse of Reality, A Tragedietta (1909) is a short play by George Bernard Shaw, set Italy during the 15th century. It is a parody of the verismo melodramas in vogue at the time. Shaw included it among what he called his "tomfooleries".
Un Petit Drame (1884) is a short play by George Bernard Shaw. It was Shaw's first completed dramatic work, and the only one written in French.